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Central funds boost for Sammedha Shikarji revamp

    Ranchi (Jharkhand), May 4, 2013: Parasnath Hill, one of the most sacred places for the Jains in the world , is in for a major revamp. The Centre, which has recently selected Jharkhand’s Jain temple as a mega tourist destination, decided to give Rs 25 crore to the state government to develop the site to make it more tourist-friendly and attract more and more pilgrims.

    In a meeting with the Union tourism secretary in Delhi, the state tourism department had made a strong pitch for getting the site approved as a mega tourist destination.

    The Jain pilgrimage in Jharkhand badly needed funds for infrastructure development. The place, however, has other problems too. It is situated in Giridih district, 170km from here, in the heart of Naxalite-affected area in the state. Local goons have also wrecked havoc at the site and often robbed pilgrims in the past. District police will also plan better security measures after the destination is developed and more pilgrims flock to the site.

    With the funds, the tourism department will develop toilets for “doliwalas” (people who ferry pilgrims in a human cart), a theme park, parking space, more shelters for tourists, an 18-km-long “parikarma path” and better sanitary facilities, among others.

    Despite its infrastructure being in bad shape, thousands of Jain pilgrims visit Parasnath Hill where 20 of the 24 Tirthankaras attained “nirvana” by doing meditation at this location. The place is also known as “sammed sikhar”. It is because of this the site is considered the most holy place among all Jain pilgrimages in the country.

    Siddhartha Tripathy, director, tourism, said the first priority of the government was to develop “parikarma path”. “The route atop the hill is in extremely poor shape. Many pilgrims fall down into the gorges and get injured,” said Tripathy. The road which is used by the pilgrims to take a holy round of the temple atop the hill is not entirely concretized.

    Other infrastructural handicaps also plague the site. There is no place for “doliwalas”. “It looks strange when you go there, the ‘doliwals’ sleep on the pavement. Their plight gives a bad feeling0,” said a Jain pilgrim in Ranchi. The department will also construct toilets for them. -News Courtesy: Times of India

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