The government of India through Union Minister of Culture and tourism, G Kishan Reddy informed the Rajya Sabha last week that the development of Punaura Dham of Sitamarhi, the birthplace of Maa Sita has been approved to the tune of Rs 37.80 crore. The Minister was answering the question filed by former Deputy Chief Minister of the state Sushil Modi.
It is pertinent to note that Punaura Dham is considered to be the birthplace of Goddess Sita or Maa Janki. The Dham is spread over around 10 acres of land in Punaura village, about 5km west of Sitamarhi town. The shrine compound has a Ram Janki temple, a pond called Sita Kund, and a hall.
In Tretayuga, when King Janaka of Mithila was ploughing the land, he found Maa Sita in a gold-studded box. The kingdom of Mithila is also mentioned in the Ramayana. Sita was the eldest daughter of King Janak of Mithila, who was married to Shri Ram, the eldest son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya.
Read More: Maa Sita Other Name: Goddess of Sacrifice, purity and Courage
Swadesh Darshan Scheme and Punaura Dham
The ministry has also included Punaura Dham in the Ramayana Circuit of Swadesh Darshan Scheme. The scheme was launched in 2014 –15 to integrate the development of theme-based tourist circuits across the country.
Under the scheme, the Ministry of Tourism provides Central Financial Assistance (CFA) to State Governments/Union Territory Administrations for infrastructure development of circuits.
Fifteen thematic circuits have been identified under the scheme viz. Buddhist Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Desert Circuit, Eco Circuit, Heritage Circuit, Himalayan Circuit and Ramayana Circuit amongst others.
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The centre is developing different religious tourist sites under specialized themes
The ministry gave a brief overview of the funding and development of different projects under the scheme. Reddy stated that under Thirthankar Circuit, a sum of Rs 37 crore had been sanctioned in the year 2016-17 for the development of Vaishali-Ara-Masad-Patna-Rajgir-Pawapuri-Champapuri Circuit under the Jain theme.
Similarly, under the Buddhist theme, a convention centre at Bodh Gaya with an estimated outlay of Rs 98 crore was approved in 2016-17. Funds to the tune of Rs 93 crore have been released to date. Moreover, under the scheme, Buddhist Conclave is organised every alternate year to promote India as a Buddhist Destination.
Read more: How Modi government’s boost to tourism is bearing fruits as India moves up the ladder in Global Travel & Tourism
The previous governments did not make serious efforts to exploit the potential of the tourism industry. PM Modi-led government is very serious about developing India as a major tourist destination in the world, and it has taken a series of steps to improve the infrastructure.
With the government focusing its energy on developing the historical and religious sites using dedicated programmes — the glory of Sanatan Dharma is being revived, one site at a time.