Giving a push to the much talked about Ramayana Museum in Ayodhya, Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma today met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and held detailed deliberations on starting the project, part of the Ramayana circuit of his ministry. “We had a detailed discussion on the works related to Ramayana museum which had run into some problems during the previous government even though the Union government was all set to release Rs 154 crore for the project,” Sharma said after the meeting.
“I have full faith that the central and state governments will work together to boost tourism and spiritual tourism in the state and UP will become a hub of tourism in the country,” he said.
Soon after taking over the reins of the state, the Chief Minister had on March 21 met Mahesh Sharma in Delhi and reportedly discussed the construction of Ramayana museum in Ayodhya. BJP sources had said Adityanath has accepted the Centre’s proposal for the museum and agreed to provide land for it in a week’s time.
Sharma, who promised that work will also be undertaken for developing the Buddhist circuit and Sonebhadra for boosting tourism, had in October last year visited Ayodhya. He had also talked about building a Ramayana museum just before the Assembly polls in UP.
The previous Samajwadi Party government had identified a 25-acre plot for the museum which is some 15 km away from the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid complex. The museum will be part of the Ramayana Circuit for which the Centre has sanctioned Rs 225 crore, with Rs 151 crore exclusively for Ayodhya, which would be the hub of the circuit.
“Ram is in the heart of millions of people. As the Tourism Minister, I have to see how Ayodhya can be developed, how Ramayana circuit can be developed from tourism point of view,” the minister had said, drawing criticism from political opponents who termed it as an attempt at polarisation of Hindu votes.
Sharma had earned the wrath of rivals including BSP supremo Mayawati, Congress and the DMK. These parties had accused the Modi government of linking religion with politics and also questioned the timing of the move. The Union govenrment has identified three circuits – Ramayana Circuit, Krishna Circuit and Buddhist Circuit – to boost religious tourism in the country.
Sources in the government said there were plans to connect Ramayana-related sites in Nepal and Sri Lanka with the proposed museum which would portray the epic journey of Lord Rama.
The government also plans to hold an International Ramayana Conclave in Ayodhya or Chitrakoot district to be attended by delegates from about 12 countries, sources said. The date for the conclave has not yet been finalised.