The state tourism department of Varanasi has come up with a unique plan: that of allowing visitors to go on heritage walks through the temple town. Dubbed the ‘Circle of life’ walk, this innovative new way of exploring Varanasi will open doors for visitors to get drenched in Banarasi way of life. In all, the walk will cover 16 key attractions between Assi Ghat and Dal Mandi.
The decision to introduce a heritage walk was arrived upon by a team of tourism officials and representatives from the International Center for Sustainable Cities who deliberated on the merits of the decision –the contingent also chalked out a route map and worked out the logistics. Sameeha Sheth, who is acting as a consultant on the project and is a heritage walk specialist, said that people are always on the lookout for some fresh experiences which they can now get in Varanasi; the temple town has so many sites with intriguing stories woven around them, that visitors will go back home with wonderful memories.
She went on to add that the heritage walk will weave together all unique tangible and intangible assets of Varanasi, places that romanticize its colorful history apart from connecting all the establishments that have been established along the holy river Ganga. The walk, which would cover a distance of 4 km, allows participants to get a first-hand experience of the different rituals and expressions that are such an integral part of Varanasi and practiced in places like ghats, temples, maths, and many other cultural hotspots.
Amrit Abhijat, who is the director general of UP Tourism, informed that each year more than 160 lakh tourists –out of which 6.5 lakh are foreigners –visit the temple town. In the normal situation, these visitors, who have their own perception of Varanasi, don’t always get a real feel of the world’s oldest city and return home dissatisfied. But now with the heritage walk in place, visitors will not miss a heartbeat as these walks showcases the best that is on offer.
In anticipation of the heritage walk, the areas along the route have been brushed up; the department is already collaborating with the local municipal corporation and administration to smooth things out and give the final touches. Some of the steps undertaken by the department as part of the augmentation process include raising signage, putting up waste bins, installing lights, creating public toilets and parking spaces, setting up ticket information kiosks and providing drinking water facilities. In addition to these works, photo-points will be created and landscaping will be done along the route.