The Congress government in Chhattisgarh will start the construction of a grand Kaushalya temple in Chandrakhuri, near Raipur, next month as part of its plan to promote the state as the maternal home of Rama, a major Hindu deity.
The project is part of a larger ₹137.45-crore plan to develop 51 religious places in the state believed to have been visited by Rama during his 14 years of exile.
An old temple dedicated to Rama’s mother, Kaushalya, is already there in Chandrakhuri, on the outskirts of state capital Raipur. The government now plans to give it a facelift, build a large temple complex around it to develop the place as a major tourist spot of the state.
According to popular belief, Chhattisgarh was known as Kaushal Pradesh during the times of Rama and was ruled by Raja Bhanumant, father of Kaushalya.
According to a senior state Congress leader, the plan will help the state develop a religious tourist circuit to earn revenue while giving the ruling party its own Hindu card to triumph over the BJP, which has successfully used Rama’s name to reap political dividends.
The government has also strategically planned the construction to begin by the third week of August, just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi lays the foundation stone of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on August 5.
The Congress government headed by Bhupesh Baghel has been peddling soft Hindutva since assuming power in 2018 to counter the BJP in this Hindi heartland state. Earlier this month, it had launched the Godhan Nyay Yojana, under which the state proposed to buy bovine waste from livestock owners to prepare organic fertiliser. The state government is also building day-care centres for cows, considered sacred by many Hindus.
Among the total 51 places identified as spots through which Rama travelled during his exile, eight will be developed in the first phase. These eight places are Sitamadhi-Harchowka in Koria; Ramgarh in Surguja; Sheorinarayan in Janjgir-Champa; Turturia in Balodabazar-Bhatapara; Chandrakhuri in Raipur; Rajim in Gariaband; Sihava in Dhamtari and Jagdalpur in Bastar.
Under the development of these earmarked places, the government would facilitate them with better connectivity and improve other infrastructure needed for a tourist place, a government statement said. Of the Ram Van Gaman Path (route taken by Rama during his exile in the jungle), a stretch of 32 kms falls in Chhattisgarh.
The development of the tourist circuit will start with the building of Kaushalya temple complex. Among other projects, the government has also approved the construction of a bypass road in front of Chandrakuri temple.
(With inputs from Abhijat Shukla in Raipur)