Revisiting the Basics

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[Spiritual Tourism #1] PRASAD Cities- Ajmer and Amaravati


Although the definition and purposes of Tourism is no longer restricted to Heritage and Pilgrimage cities- its definitely India’s USP due to its Civilizational legacy, and being the birthplace of many religions.

In this series on Themes in Tourism Industry, we’ll start by taking a trip through History and Culture of Cities of Spiritual / Religious Importance. For its promotion Government of India has launched two schemes PRASAD and Swadesh Darshan for Development of Theme-Based Tourist Circuits. 

About the PRASAD Scheme

  • PRASAD means Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive
  • A 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme under Tourism Ministry
    • Note that funds for any CSS is given to states in installments (20% at approval stage, 60% when 20% work done and rest 20% when 60% work is finished)
  • Provisions under the scheme include
    • Tourism Promotion and Tourist Ecosystem
    • Vocational Training for Tourists and Hospitality Business
      • Hunar se Rozgar tak (HSRT) and earn while you learn programs
    • Improving Tourist Infrastructure

Provisions regarding Tourist Infrastructure in PRASAD

  • ATM, foreign currency exchange counters
  • Rail, road water transport
  • Green energy streetlights
  • Water adventure sports
  • First-aid centres, Wi-Fi hotspots, Parking facilities
  • Green landscaping, water fountains, walkways, furniture etc.
  • Removing encroachments

PRASAD versus HRIDAY?

  • HRIDAY means Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana
  • While PRASAD is under Tourism ministry <note that Culture ministry is separate from Tourism ministry> while HRIDAY is under Urban Development Ministry
  • PRASAD cities are handpicked because their tourism is centered around faith, spirituality and religion. On the other hand, a HRIDAY city is chosen for its heritage status that goes beyond faith to include aspects of culture such as Architecture (Eg- Cave temples of Badami, Kakatiya Temples of Warangal)
  • HRIDAY is exclusively focused on Infrastructure that preserve the Heritage Character (Museums, Fairs, Festivals etc) , while PRASAD goes beyond that to include Vocational Training programmes and other things that make up Tourism Ecosystem
  • Common outcomes of both are:
    • Increase in Employment, Tourist Footfalls, Cleanliness of Heritage/Pilgrimage cities
    • Decrease in Pollution, Crime rates etc
  • There are 12 cities selected for both schemes, but there’s a considerable overlap in the sense that 10 cities are common to both. Only cities separate are:
    • Kamakhya in Assam and Kedarnath in Uttarakhand (PRASAD)
    • Badami in Karnataka and Warangal in Telangana
  • Lets take a tour of those common 10 cities and the other 2 specific to PRASAD.

Map of PRASAD Cities

source

#1: Ajmer

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  • Surrounded by the Aravalli Mountains (meaning the “Invincible Hill”)
  • Founded by Ajaipal Chauhan (who established The Chauhan Dynasty – 7th century.
  • Ruled by the legendary Prithviraj Chauhan, the last Hindu king of Delhi.
  • Dargah of the Great Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti (aka Madina of India)
    • Devotees of all sects and faiths congregate
    • Annual festival of Urs (Death anniversary of a Sufi saint in South Asia, usually held at the saint’s dargah such as Chisti’s; it is celebrated rather than mourned)
    • Picture of harmony and universal brotherhood.
  • Variety of styles of Architecture including lndo-Islamic, Royal Rajasthani, lndo-Saracenic and Jain styles of architecture.
    • Soniji Ki Nasiyan is a famous Digambara Jain temple from Ajmer
  • Ajmer is also the base for visiting Pushkar (11 km), the abode of Lord Brahma and a sacred town of Hindus <Pushkar is far from Mahadeo Hills of MP, remember 2015 prelims question?>
  • Artists of this area
    • Carving on wood and ivory,
    • Blue pottery

#2: Amaravati

  • What’s in a name?
    • Translates to “The town lives forever”
    • Also referred as Amareswaram
    • Formerly known as Andhra nagari
    • Name derived from famous “Amareswara temple” dedicated to Lord Shiva
  • Ancient Rulers of Amaravati
    • Capital of Satavahanas who ruled from 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE <most important period for Amaravati>
    • Andhra Ikshvakus
    • Pallava kings
    • Eastern Chalukyas
    • Telugu Cholas
    • Kakatiyas in 11th century CE
  • Medieval Rulers of Amaravati
    • Delhi Sultanate
    • Bahmani Sultanate
    • Vijayanagara Empire,
    • Munsuri Nayaks
    • Sultanate of Golconda
  • Mentions of Amaravati found in:
    • Skanda Purana gives a picture of the place
    • Puranic literature such as Aitreya Brahamana mentions about “Andhra-jati” ruling area we now know as Amaravati
  • The Amaravati Stupa
    • Buddhist stupa (Dhyana) was built during the Reign of Ashoka in 200 BCE
      • Carved with panels that tells the story of Buddha
    • During the period of the Decline of Buddhism, this stupa was also neglected and it was buried
    • Stupa is related to the “Vajrayana” (Tibetan) teachings of Kalchakra (a festival held in 2006, Dalai Lama inaugurated)
    • NOTE: Hiuen Tsang (Xuanzang) also visited Amaravati Stupa in 640 CE

source
  • Ancient Art (Sculpture) from Amaravati
    • Amaravati art as one of the three major styles or schools of ancient Indian Sculpture
      • Other two being the Gandhara style and the Mathura style.
    • Use of White marble (to Potrays a Greco-Roman influence)
    • Physical beauty with elegance
    • Narrative rather than individualistic (not deities but Humans)
    • Depiction of Kings and Princes
    • Direct result of the close trade and diplomatic contacts between south india and the ancient roma
    • Amaravati has itself yielded a few Roman coins
    • World’s finest examples of Narrative sculpture.

source

Published with inputs from Amar 

Questions, suggestions and comments


  1. Profile photo of Krishna Kunal Krishna Kunal

    Missing link :
    Amaravati School of Art(Patrons- Satvahanas) – used white marbles + no external influence i.e. 100% desi (unlike Mathura and Gandhara school of arts) + Buddhist influence

    1. Profile photo of Er S Er S

      Mathura is also no outside interference. Only Gandhara has greko roman influence.

  2. Profile photo of Deep A Deep A

    Nicely articulated!

  3. Profile photo of Amit Tripathi Amit Tripathi

    Great info

  4. Profile photo of Rakesh K Gupta Rakesh K Gupta

    Thankyou..waiting for next in series. .

  5. Profile photo of Akshay Mishra Akshay Mishra

    amaravati is loacated on the southern banks of river krishna

  6. Profile photo of Gaurav Kudtarkar Gaurav Kudtarkar

    Thoughtful and timely series. Great job.

  7. Profile photo of Cp V Cp V

    good article. hope to see the other cities as well 🙂

  8. Profile photo of Naveen Shekhar Naveen Shekhar

    To be continued…?

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