PM Modi unfurls flag atop Gujarat temple

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday unfurled a traditional flag on the famous Mahakali temple in Gujarat‘s Panchmahal district, months after a dargah which stood atop the temple for nearly 500 years, was shifted with the consent of its caretakers.

Speaking on the occasion, Modi said the flag unfurled at the temple is not just symbol of our spirituality, but shows that our faith remains strong despite passage of centuries, and added that the centres of faith and spiritual glory of India are now being re-established.

The ‘shikhara’ or spire of the temple which was destroyed in the attack of Sultan of Gujarat Mahmud Begda around 500 years ago. It has been restored now as part of the redevelopment of the 11th century temple, situated on the Pavagadh hill and the flag atop it was unfurled by the prime minister.

“For five centuries and even after 75 years of Independence the flag atop Ma Kali temple was not unfurled, today it is being done,” Modi said.

“The flag unfurled at the temple is not just a symbol of our spirituality, but it says that centuries change, eras go by, but our faith remains eternal,” he said.

Modi said that the dream of lakhs of devotees was fulfilled today when the temple stands in full glory as it was in the ancient times. “It is one thing to dream, while conceptualising something is different. But when you see that the dream has become a reality, it is a satisfactory feeling,” Modi said.

“You have seen that a grand Ram temple is being built at Ayodhya. The Kashi Vishwanath temple complex has already been rebuilt and the same is the case with the Kedarnath temple. Our centres of faith and spiritual glory of India are being re-established. The rebuilding of Ma Kali temple at Pavagadh is part of the same ‘gaurav yatra’,” Modi said.

“Along with the development of these centres of spirituality, it is important to develop infrastructure for the development of religious tourism. One can see that this UNESCO heritage site of Pavagadh-Chapaner will be one of the tourist attractions of the country,” he said.

“After we developed infrastructure for Chardham Yatra (in Uttrakhand), you have seen this year that lakhs of people are visiting those places in just few weeks this season,” Modi said referring to a large number of devotees visiting Kedarnath and Badrinath.

Modi inaugurated the redeveloped Mahakali temple, which is nestled within Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and attracts millions of devotees every year.

The original spire of the temple was destroyed by Sultan Mahmud Begada during his invasion of Champaner in the 15th century, a temple functionary said.

Soon afterwards, a dargah or shrine of Sadanshah Peer, a Muslim saint, was built on top of the temple, he said.

“To hoist a flag, a pole on a spire is needed. As there was no spire, no flag was put up all these years. When the redevelopment started a few years ago, we requested the caretakers of the dargah to allow it to be shifted so that the spire could be rebuilt,” he said.

“We had an amicable settlement and the dargah was relocated to a place close to the temple,” he said.

The redevelopment, which included widening of the steps leading to the temple from the foothill and beautification of the surrounding area, cost around Rs 125 crore.

The new temple complex is built over three levels and spread over 30,000 square feet.

Harry Byrne

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