Agra (Uttar Pradesh), October 28, 2016: Considering that 17 out of 24 tirthankars of Jainism were born in what is now Uttar Pradesh, there is a lot of scope for developing a tourist circuit in the state. A delegation headed by Agra MP Ram Shankar Katheria met Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma to discuss a plan in this regard. The minister assured them of cooperation in creating a tirthankar circuit on the lines of the Buddha, Ramayana and Krishna circuits.
Katheria said, “The central government is already developing Buddha, Ramayana and Krishna circuits. The development of tirthankar circuit in UP will further promote religious tourism in the state. It will help is spreading the messages of peace at a time when the entire world is facing threats from terrorism.”
KC Jain, trustee of Gyanodaya Sansthan and part of the delegation, said, “UP is a sacred destination for Jains as 17 tirthankars were born here in Meerut, Agra, Kaushambi, Varanasi, Deoria, Ayodhaya, Shravasti and Farrukhabad. However, the upkeep of the areas hasn’t been there. Earlier, we had written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi also about this. The cultural minister was quite enthusiastic about the project and said the ministry would soon make an announcement in this regard.”
He added, “Although the community members know that there are 24 Jain tirthankars, many do not know where they were born and lived. We had done an extensive research and we located several important destination in the region. Many of these destinations are situated in remote areas and lack basic facilities.”
Rakesh Garg, joint secretary of Agra Development Foundation, said, “Around one crore people visit Agra to visit the Taj every year, but around three to four crore pilgrims go to Mathura and Vrindavan to visit temples. So, developing a tirthankar circuit will be an added attraction.”
The delegation also requested Sharma to give permission for carrying out excavation in Chandrawar and Firozabad, where remains of Hindu-Jain culture have been found in the past. “The remains of Jain idols, utensils, as well walls of ancient temples have also been discovered. There is a need to conduct excavation and recover our past glory,” Jain added.
The minister also assured them that the viewing of Taj Mahal at night from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna would soon start. The delegation demanded that the facility should remain open for 20 days in a month and ticket prices should be same as those charged during day time. – News Courtesy: Times of India