- by Manali Deshpande
Ministry of Roads and Highways will prepare a DPR for the project
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has decided to undertake the Braj 84 kos Parikrama Marg for development. Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Minister, Shri Nitin Gadkari said the Centre would spend 5000 Crore for improvement of 256 Km Braj 84 Kos Parikrama Marg.
Spreading over the District of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, the 84 Kos Parikrama route falls in parts of Rajasthan and Haryana crossing the borders. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is planning to rejuvenate Mathura Braj 84 Kos, where new developmental works is to be proposed for facilitating the convenience of the pilgrims. The work on the project will begin after the month of March.
Significance of Braj Chaurasi Kos Parikrama
As mentioned in Shrimad Bhagvatam and other religious texts, one gets rid of all the sins if s/he completes the Braj Chaurasi Kos Yatra by performing Parikrama. The “84 kos Parikrama ” is a 256 Km journey (pilgrimage) of the Braj area which includes villages like Barsana, Nandgaon, Vrindavan, Mathura, Kosi, Radhakund, Govardhan etc. It is a month long journey. This pilgrimage is considered to be the most virtuous of all.
The extension of this Parikrama (circumambulation) is 175 km in UP, 65 km in Rajasthan, and 25 km on the border of Haryana state. Parikrama has 37 Halts, where the devotees camp during the Parikrama. Even though this Parikrama route has its own ancient religious significance, at present, this Parikrama route is completely disorganized. Devotees doing parikrama also face a lot of trouble here.
Earlier a project of Rs. 500 crore was prepared by the Public Works Department for executing developmental projects on the Braj 84 Kos Parikrama Marg. Later, on the request of Mathura’s Member of Parliament Smt. Hema Malini, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways agreed to take on the project.
The experts of NHAI will make a visit to Mathura in the last week of March to survey the route of the Braj Chaurasi Kos. The experts of NHAI will modify the basic survey already conducted, according to the physical and geographical conditions.
NHAI to soon issue notification
NHAI held a meeting with PWD and UP Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad (UPBTVP) to review the survey report prepared by the Designer Associates Agency. Shri Pankaj Verma, Deputy CEO of the UP Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad informed that the Braj Teerth Path and Govardhan Connect projects were also discussed with NHAI that reviewed the initial proposal given by PWD on Chaurasi Kos Parikrama. Now NHAI will soon release the Notification for this mega project.
Announcing this project, the Union Minister, Shri Nitin Gadkari stated that the route for pilgrims might be developed as a two-lane with paved shoulders and on all sides, there will be a 5.5 meters extensive walkway. There will be grass and tiles on the walkway so that pilgrims completing the parikrama don’t face any inconvenience.
“There will be trees all along the Parikrama route. The typical species of trees connected with the pastimes of Shri Krishna will be planted on the Parikrama. The route will also have stone sculptures depicting the ‘lilas’ of Shri Krishna. There will be adequate facilities for public convenience.” the minister stated. The minister also said that the NHAI will seek ideas from the local folks to integrate them in the improvement plan of the parikrama Marg. This road will connect all pilgrimage destinations on the route. The vegetarian food joints and other facilities will be established on the route.
“The focus is to ensure that the pilgrims get a feeling of the life and teachings of Shri Krishna during their visit,” said Shri Gadkari.
Parikrama route to connect hundreds of village
The development of the Chourasi Kos Parikrama will connect hundreds of villages of Braj with a proper road. It will not only bring facilities for the pilgrims performing the Parikrama, but will also bring about a drastic change in the lives of the villagers living in the remote villages of Braj. The proposed plan will bring great convenience to the villagers in every respect. With the formation of this route, the development and tourism of the entire region will get new dimension. The markets and villages will get connected to each other. It will generate significant new employment opportunities for the local population.
Brief description of Route to be developed under the project
The 84 Kos Parikrama highway is proposed to start from Mathura on NH- 19 (Old NH-2) and after traversing a distance of around 361.5 KM in the State of UP (Mathura district), Rajasthan (Bharatpur district) and Haryana (Palwal district) will terminate at Mathura.
Out of total length, 45 Km falls in district Bharatpur of Rajasthan, 1 Km in district Palwal of Haryana State and the remaining length of Parikrama of about 315.5 Km falls in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. > The highway will connect important pilgrimage sites of Braj region related to leelas of Lord Krishna
There are 8 Major Pilgrimage Centres along the Parikarma namely Mathura, Goverdhan, Barsana, Nandgaon, Vrindavan, Baldeo, Mahaaban, and Gokul.
Removing encroachments along the Parikrama Marg – A big Challenge
Unchecked encroachment remains a bottleneck in the restoration of the ‘Parikrama Marg’. Identifying the original ‘Parikrama route’ and removal of the encroachments on it will be a big challenge to execute the plan. According to the PWD Officials, there would be a lot of resistance from the locals for clearing the obstructions on the way.
Chaurasi Kos Parikrama has many halts
There are number of Sampradayas and sects that conduct Braj 84 Kos Parikrama every year. Yearly Braj yatra hosted by Vallabha Sampradaya is known to be the oldest in present time. It is being conducted for past 500 years. Most of these Braj Yatras uses buses, cars or other vehicles to do the Yatra. Usually these Braj 84 kos yatras do not cover all of them, only a few popular ones are visited. These Yatras visit mostly the popular destinations of Braj such as Vrindavan, Mathura, Gokul, Nandgaon, Barsana, Bhandirvan among others.
Brief description of Features:
· The proposed configuration of Parikarma highway is 2 lanes with paved shoulders in most of the reaches and 4/6 lane in reaches having a high density of traffic.
· Provision of pilgrim-friendly footpath for movement along the Parikarma.
· Provision of Natural Shading by planting trees along the highway in between the footpath and main carriageway.
· Provision of Lighting to guide pilgrims during the journey in night hours.
· Provision of Parikrama importance Signages along road length.
· Provision of Foot over bridges crossing the NH / SH and other roads is crucial. Parikrama crossing points.
· Provision of Public toilets and rest places at prominent points along the length of the highway.
· Rest places to be Well-built and equipped with Rest Shops along with primary health facilities to accommodate 1000’s of Parikrama Travellers for both for temporary and overnight stays.
· Provision of Fresh drinking water kiosks especially in remote locations for use by pilgrims.
· Provision of shaded resting furniture for pedestrian travelers traveling throughout the day.
· Provision of bridges at 87 no. of canal crossings, 2 river crossings, and 7 railroad crossings.
The tentative cost of the project will be around Rs. 5000 Cr.
DPR consultants will be engaged for assessing estimated cost, detail of facilities to be provided for the benefit of pilgrims, lane configuration in various stretches, design length of the project, the composition of pavement considering the comfort of pilgrims, the requirement of additional land, and anticipated start and completion of the project.