MoU signed to connect 7 religious sites around Guwahati
GUWAHATI, May 19: The state government and the Inland Waterways Authority signed an MoU here on Friday to connect seven religious sites around the city through waterways.
The project will facilitate ‘hop on hop off’ ferry service, which will connect the seven historic and religious sites of Kamakhya, Pandunath, Aswaklanta, Doul Govinda, Umananda, Chakreshwar, and Auniati Satra around Guwahati, an official release said.
The project is being developed under the Sagarmala Programme.
The agreement for the development of a riverine-based religious tourism circuit on the Brahmaputra river was inked by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Sagarmala Development Corporation Limited (SDCL), Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC), and the department of inland waterways transport (DIWT), Government of Assam, it said.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal iterated the Centre’s resolve to develop the inland waterways potential of Assam and the entire North East for the accelerated growth of the region.
“The development of the riverine-based tourism circuit is a huge shot in the arm for the tourism sector in Assam. I am happy that with the support of the government of Assam, IWAI and SDCL will work in tandem with ATDC and IWT to execute this project swiftly and unveil a new chapter of the riverine tourism sector in Assam,” he said.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who was present at the programme, said the initiative will usher in a new chapter in the tourism industry of the state.
“Religious tourism will get a boost as tourists will enjoy the rich spiritual heritage of Guwahati via this wonderful riverine circuit,” he said.
Stating that riverine tourism offers a one-of-a-kind experience, Sarma exuded confidence that the riverine tourism circuit project would prove helpful in projecting Guwahati as a top tourism destination in the country.
Referring to the tourism sector as a major provider of employment and self-employment opportunities, Sarma added that the government of Assam has been taking numerous steps aimed at ensuring the further growth and rise of the tourism industry.
Kamakhya temple atop the Nilachal Hills here is one of the oldest and most revered centres of tantric practise, while Pandunath houses five idols of Lord Ganesha representing the five Pandava brothers of the epic Mahabharata. They are believed to have hid in the place during their 13-year-long exile.
Aswaklanta, built in 1720 by Ahom King Shiva Singha, is a well-known Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Daul Govinda temple is devoted to Lord Krishna and is visited by a large number of devotees during Holi.
Umananda Devaloi is a Shiva temple located on Umananda island, the smallest inhabited island in the world, in the middle of the Brahmaputra river opposite the Kachari Ghat in Guwahati. The Auniati Satra, located in north Guwahati, occupies a high position among the satras of Assam. It was built in 1653 AD by Ahom King Sutamla.
The ferry service will start from Hanuman Ghat in the Uzan Bazar area and is expected to reduce the overall travel time to less than two hours to complete one circuit. The project is likely to be completed within 12 months.
The Rs 45 crore project will be executed by a special purpose vehicle. SDCL and IWAI will jointly contribute 55 percent of the project cost, and the remaining will be borne by ATDC.
DIWT has consented to the use of ghats near the temples free of charge for the project. (With inputs from PTI)