Traders welcome business boom around Kashi temple

Corridor to the Ganges, wider roads have increased footfalls for enterprises around temple precinct

Traders in the vicinity of the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi celebrated Monday’s inauguration of the corridor connecting it to the Ganges by lighting diyas and counting the increase in business.

The owner of a saree shop with diyas at the entrance, Prabhakar Sharma, said: “Everyone is happy. Only those with political motivation are complaining. While the corridor was under construction, our business increased by 100%. Now, we expect it to increase further.”

Kanhaiya Kapoor, who owns a shop selling religious articles near the temple, said the corridor, which carved out space in congested lanes, would allow more pilgrims to visit the shrine and lead to an increase in business for traders like him.

“Earlier people used to come and see the long queues to enter the temple, get scared and leave. It’s not like Banaras has big industry, we rely on tourists. Despite COVID and fewer people travelling, my business has increased. Today alone I sold items worth ₹10,000, whereas it used to be around ₹1,000 to ₹2,000 before the corridor construction started,” said Mr. Kapoor.

Devotees offering prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi on Sunday, and right, | Photo Credit: AP


Krishna Kumar Gupta, an employee of a sari shop near the temple, said not only had the corridor been built, but the area outside the temple had been spruced up. “Earlier you couldn’t take a two-wheeler to see Baba [Lord Shiva], now you can take a four-wheeler, even a JCB if you want,” he said, referring to road improvement work.

About 300 buildings were cleared to make way for the 400m corridor before construction began in 2019. According to U.P. government officials, the land for the project was secured without litigation and by paying the residents amounts above the market rate.

While former residents said they were compensated, some raised issues of lack of employment and families being split up.

Pawan Goswami said his family sold their house in 2018, but he has been left without work as he used to help his father run a shop of puja supplies and conduct rituals for worshippers at a temple maintained by his family. He says he was allowed to conduct rituals at the temple for one year after moving out, but the temple now sits inside the larger Kashi Vishwanath complex. “I am unemployed as of now,” he said.

Amarnath Kharwar said his family also sold their property in 2018. “We did not think we had any option.” He said along with his family home, he also lost his work — a sari workshop at the property. “I haven’t been able to set it up again,” he said.

Vijay Shankar Pandey said his family had lived in the area for generations, but after the house was sold, he and his brothers went their separate ways. “We used to live together. But now the family is scattered. Since we split the amount, I was able to buy a smaller house,” he said.

Source: Read Full Article