Varanasi: The inauguration of a five-star luxury cruise by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on the Ganga in Varanasi met with protest with protest from sadhus and saints in Kashi.
The double-decker 2,000 sq feet luxury cruise is operated by Nordic Cruise line and has a seating capacity of about 125 tourists. This includes 60 seats in the air-conditioned lower deck fitted with big see-through glasses to enjoy the ‘Ganga Aarti’ at Dashashamedh Ghat and ‘Shubha-e-Banaras’ at Assi Ghat in Varanasi.
While the people of Varanasi and tourists seemed happy with the development, a few saints in Kashi have lodged their protest over sailing of the cruise on holy river.
The General Secretray Ganga Mahasabha, Swami Jitendranand Saraswati, was visibly upset over non-vegetarian and liquor being served on the cruise.
“It will pave way for the western culture in world’s ancient city. How can non-vegetarian and liquor be served on holy river Ganga, whom Hindus revered as their mother?” he said.
“They will throw left-over of non-vegetarian food into Ganga to make it impure. It is against the rulings of the High Court and Supreme Court. We will demand from the Prime Minister and Chief Minister to ban ‘maans-Mandira (non-veg and liquor) at all religious places,” he added.
Ganga Mahasabha has also written a letter to the Varanasi Commissioner Deepak Agarwal to withdraw the cruise from sailing in Ganga in Varanasi. “We will be forced to launch an agitation if the same was not withdrawn,” warned Swami Saraswati.
The cruise liner has modern luxuries including 60 sofas on the lower deck, bio-toilets. The kitchen on the upper deck will offer both vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian and continental food. Alcohol will also be served as part of the service.
The luxury cruise
- The cruise is equipped with modern technology, powerful engine, latest safety features and onboard life-guard facility to meet any emergencies and sail in all weather conditions.
- The luxury cruise had reached Varanasi from Kolkatta in August first week after covering some 755 nautical miles.
- In the first phase, Alaknanda will sail between Assi Ghat to Panchganga Ghat covering a distance of 12 km and all 85 famous ghats of Kashi. Later, it will go up to Chunar.
- The company Director Manoj Poddar said that Rs 750 per person will be charged for a ride on Alaknanda. The online booking of tickets will be available shortly.
- “The company will also book the cruise to organize birthday parties, anniversary celebrations and will also offer facility to hold Rudrabhishek Yajna onboard on Ganga river. The yajna will be performed by 11 learned Brahmins. The company will charge Rs 75,000 for the yajna per family,” said Poddar.