Institutionalizing Cultural Tourism for Heritage Preservation: Comprehending Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor (SKVTC)

Institutionalizing Cultural Tourism for Heritage Preservation: Comprehending Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor (SKVTC)

Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-9957-3.ch009
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The study attempts to analyze the temple Corridor Project in detail and understand its impact on cultural tourism. It focuses on the scope and challenges of heritage preservation and tourism infrastructure development, had been conducted through field visits and observations. During the investigation, different sources have been taken into account, including document review, personal interviews with the experts, local community stakeholders, and those who are/were directly or indirectly involved or affected by the SKVTC project. The study proposed unique way of using different but related set of factors of different natures in cultuaral heritage tourism, and hence offers an important empirical contribution to the literature of heritage management.
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The postulation of immersive heritage experiences at the ‘sacred’ city of Varanasi has been supported by the development of Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor in rhythm with 21st century tourism infrastructure that allows room for cultural reflection (Bec et al., 2019). Cultural inheritance in the contemporary urban landscape of Varanasi entails determining maximum efficiency in visitor-experience that enables them to perceive heritage as a proponent of collective identity and source of understanding the present (UNESCO 2014). The ambitious Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor (SKVTC) Project, inaugurated on March 08, 2019, by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, completed its Phase I on December 13, 2021. This Project gains considerable momentum as a driving force for emboldening aspects of heritage preservation, its connection with the geographical landscape of the city, the related historical mythologies, and the impact of a sustainable approach to religious infrastructure development in a generally perceived ‘sacred’ city like Varanasi (Divya 2021; Verma, 2021).

The attraction of cultural tourism has become a common strategy for countries and cities seeking to enhance the value of their tourism. This is mostly because cultural tourists tend to interact with tourist sites more comprehensively through participation in cultural activities, visits to museum, and an overall tendency to be ‘culturally motivated’ and therefore more active through their engagement with sites (Richards 2010). Needless to say, cultural tourism enhances the economics related with tourism, however, the present study focuses on discerning the impact of cultural tourism over aspects of preservation of heritage. The mainspring of this study is the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor (SKVTC) Project of Varanasi, for a few fundamental reasons: this case is an ongoing Project which is witnessing first-hand implications of cultural tourism in the post-pandemic era; and because it is characteristically a highly-rich cultural and historical icon in a city famous for its heritage: Varanasi.

An interesting outcome of the Project has been the ‘rediscovery’ of multiple historical temples in the vicinity of the Corridor, which promulgates the dense heritage of the area. Shri Kashi Vishwanath Special Area Development Board (SKVSADB) has been conserving the rediscovered historical temples, which represent the artistic and cultural legacy of the city in the last three hundred years.

The paper purports to present how the SKVTC Project has propositioned its roadmap of ‘Extension and Beautification’ of a densely-populated cultural hotspot (Kashi Vishwanath Mandir Visistikaran- Saundrikaran Yojana) deciphering its cultural heritage glory. The scope of this study includes the rediscovered historical temples of the region that were saved from encroachment as a result of this Corridor. These rediscovered temples are placed in the milieu of Varanasi’s growing religious and cultural heritage. The Corridor’s planning has been corroborated with a Detailed Project Report, and current status of the Project’s Phase. A systematic understanding of new developments at the site, along with its efficiency and impact is required, and the paper attempts at filling this research gap. The heritage conservation process of the Corridor has been evaluated in the contexts of transforming congested lanes, modern-amenities based architecture and overall tourism infrastructure (Rani, et al. 2018). Tourism infrastructure, amenities, etc. are criterion for cultural attraction and contribute towards propensity for developing positive destination image, which explains the constant rise in tourism at the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor (Bertacchini et al. 2021).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Bottom-Up Approaches: This refer to strategies, initiatives, and development processes that prioritize the active participation and engagement of local communities, individuals, and grassroots organizations in shaping and benefiting from tourism activities

Tourism Infrastructure: It encompasses a wide range of components and services designed to enhance the travel experience for tourists and ensure the smooth operation of tourism-related activities in a destination.

Institutionalizing: This refers to the process of establishing or formalizing something as a fundamental and enduring part of an organization, society, or system

Cultural Tourism: This involves travellers seeking to engage with and understand the unique cultural aspects of a place, including its customs, language, cuisine, architecture, art, festivals, and historical sites.

Heritage Preservation: Also known as cultural heritage preservation or conservation, refers to the proactive efforts and practices aimed at safeguarding and protecting the cultural, historical, natural, and architectural heritage of a particular region, community, or place for the benefit of present and future generations.

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