Gujarat is all set to house India’s biggest and one of the largest passenger ropeway projects in Asia constructed on Mount Girnar, the tallest mountain of the state. The Rs 130-crore project, developed by Ghaziabad-based Usha Breco (UBL) on Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) mode is expected to give a major boost to tourism sector in Saurashtra region. For the 900 metre high project situated near Junagadh town, the government of Gujarat has given 99 years lease to UBL as entire cost has been borne by the developer company, said Gujarat’s minister of state for tourism Jawahar Chavda, adding, “being an important pilgrimage as well as destination for eco-tourism, on an average nearly 1,500 tourists and pilgrims visit Girnar and surrounding places per day. With initiation of the ropeway project, we are expecting at least a 10 fold increase in footfalls in the next couple of years.”
As Junagadh falls in Sasan Gir (only abode in the world of the Asiatic lions), Somnath and Diu tourism circuit, there would be multifold impact on tourism activities in the region due to the ropeway project which will be virtually inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, said Sourbh Parghi, collector Junagadh. The 2,320-metre-long project is also the world’s longest temple ropeway in the world and India’s biggest passenger ropeway project, said Apurv Jhawar, managing director UBL, adding that they are currently operating seven rope-way projects across India in four states, including Uttarakhand, Kerala, Odisha and Gujarat on BOT mode and transporting 7 million passengers annually. Apart from Girnar, the company is also operating ropeway projects at Pavagadh near Vadodara and Ambaji in North Gujarat in the state, said Jhawar.
The foundation stone for the Girnar ropeway was laid by Modi in September 2018. Within a span of a couple of years, the ambitious ropeway project is now set for passenger transport from the foothill of Mount Girnar up to Ambaji temple situated atop the mountain. Currently, visitors have to climb 10,000 steps to reach the peak of the mountain. Now onward, old age people can also experience the scenic beauty of surrounding forest areas from the top of the mountain.
“25 glass floored trolleys would transport 800 passengers per hour. It would take nearly 7.45 minutes from the foot of Mount Girnar up to Ambaji temple. The ropeway would be in operation right from sunrise to sunset,” said Pradip Khimani, member of Girnar Pilgrimage Development Committee. Interestingly, the project was envisaged way back in 1968-69 by the Porbander-based NRI industrialist late Nanji Kalidas Maheta. The project was supposed to be completed by the end of 1972 at an estimated cost of Rs 9.5 crore.
Despite the fact that former chief ministers (irrespective of party-line) including Amarsinh Chaudhary, Chimanbhai Patel, Keshubhai Patel, Shankersinh Vaghela and Dilip Parikh promised to complete the project during their respective tenure as chief minister but somehow it didn’t materialise due to environmental, political and religious issues. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi did groundbreaking for the project on May 7, 2007 when he was Gujarat CM.