Pradeep Pattanayak

The holy and pilgrimage places shouldn’t be converted into tourist places, said Shankaracharya of Puri Gobardhan Peeth, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati on Monday. 

The seer’s views have assumed importance as they came at a time when the Odisha government is getting ready to inaugurate the Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project (Srimandir Parikrama Prakalpa) in Puri and the SAMALEI Project. 

At a religious programme held at Raipur in Chhattisgarh, while replying to the queries of journalists on the inauguration of the Srimandir Heritage Corridor Project scheduled to be held on January 17, the seer said, “With pilgrimage places being converted into tourist spots, hoteliers and transporters are happy. Converting pilgrimage places into tourist spots means converting them into places of enjoyment. And thereby, they will lose their importance.”

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“If a ‘taposthali’ is to be converted into ‘bhogosthali’, then transform it into a tourist spot. I won’t stop. For example, according to scriptures, Delhi is a pilgrimage place. But if someone asks you after your return from Delhi as to where you did you go - would you say I went on a pilgrimage. Going to Delhi can never be regarded as a pilgrimage,” he said. 

When asked whether he would attend the January 17 event, he said, “I have been invited to it. I will decide whether I should go or not.”

(Reported by Swarup Bhattacharya )