Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD Schemes: Objective, Approach and Benefit

Get to know the objectives and benefits of the government schemes, Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD.

Get to know the objectives and benefits of the government schemes, Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD.

India is a vast country with a rich and diverse heritage of religions, communities, culture, traditions and bio-diversity, all of which offer a wide choice of options for the keen traveller.

To nurture this diverse heritage and to promote interest among tourists, both domestic and international, the Narendra Modi-led government took the initiative to allocate financial and other resources in the 2014-15 Budget for developing ‘theme-based’ tourist circuits in India.

Swadesh Darshan

The Objective

Identify and develop theme-based tourist circuits based on interest, sustainability and competitiveness, by integrating resources and local participation of state and local communities.

Theme-based high-interest tourist circuits to include:

  • Pilgrimage and Spirituality – India has a long history of opening itself to all religions and today, each has a vast following in India and overseas. Pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Sufis, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, etc., all offer tremendous potential for development.
  • Heritage – Historical places beginning with the Taj Mahal, Red Fort (Delhi), Ajanta Caves, the temples of South, etc., all have tremendous potential for further development.
  • Culture – Themes around festivals, fairs, cattle fairs, community fairs, all continue to attract large number of tourists each year.
  • Eco-tourism – Preserve and promote bio-diversity and ecological conservation through responsible tourism.

The Ministry of Tourism has identified 13 theme-based circuits to be developed:

  • The Himalayan Circuit
  • The Coastal Circuit
  • The North-East India Circuit
  • The Buddhist Circuit
  • The Desert Circuit
  • The Krishna Circuit
  • The Tribal Circuit
  • The Ramayana Circuit
  • The Spiritual Circuit
  • The Eco Circuit
  • The Heritage Circuit
  • The Wildlife Circuit
  • The Rural Circuit

In addition to the above, 8 Waterway Cruise Circuits have also been planned. This includes 5 circuits on River Ganges and 3 on River Brahmaputra.

The Approach

  • Create local awareness of the value of local history, heritage, culture, tradition and the importance of outsider interest to know these aspects.
  • Involve local youth and communities to train them for direct and indirect employment opportunities in promoting tourism in their area.
  • Invest in local infrastructure development to ensure an high-quality of comfort, convenience and access to all tourists.
  • Promote local arts and crafts to add value to the tourist experience.
  • Involve states to develop integrated strategies with support and guidance from the central government.

The Benefit

  • Increased local employment opportunities to generate more incomes and lead to an improved quality of life.
  • Preservation of local culture, tradition and customs.
  • Development of hotels, guest houses and home-stay opportunities.
  • Development of tourism-related service support infrastructure like transport, catering, excursions and retail.

In the 2016-17 Budget, according to the information available, the funds sanctioned under Swadesh Darshan include:

  • The Himalayan Circuit: Rs 569.19 crore
  • The Coastal Circuit: Rs 414.26 crore
  • The Tribal Circuit: Rs 116.55 crore
  • The North-East Circuit: Rs 194.45 crore

PRASAD – Pilgrimage-themed tourist circuit development

Religion and spirituality has a large following in India and each year, millions of people from India and overseas visit sites of religious and spiritual significance.

To further develop these popular sites, the Government of India announced plans to launch the National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive–PRASAD, with an initial allocation of Rs 100 crore, in the 2014-15 Budget.

Part of the 13 theme-based circuits being promoted under the Swadesh and PRASAD schemes, the following are the pilgrimage and spirituality circuits:

  • Ramayana Circuit
  • Krishna Circuit
  • Buddhist Circuit
  • Spiritual Circuit

The sites selected for development under PRASAD include:

  • Amritsar, Punjab
  • Kedarnath, Uttarakhand
  • Badrinath, Uttarakhand
  • Katra, J&K
  • Hazratbal, J&K
  • Mathura, U.P
  • Ajmer, Rajasthan
  • Somnath, Gujarat
  • Trimbakeshwar, Maharashtra
  • Varanasi, U.P
  • Ujjain, M.P
  • Gaya, Bihar
  • Patna, Bihar
  • Belur, West Bengal
  • Deogarh, Jharkhand
  • Kamakhya, Assam
  • Puri, Odisha
  • Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
  • Amravati, Andhra Pradesh
  • Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
  • Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Vellankanni, Tamil Nadu
  • Guruvayoor, Kerala

The Objective

PRASAD scheme aims to promote pilgrimage centres by adopting a holistic approach to infrastructure development through the entire stakeholder chain.

The Approach

  • Government plans to encourage development of budget hotels/hotel chains that offer clean and comfortable experience to the pilgrim at an affordable cost.
  • Establish travel access points for international and domestic tourists to arrive through air, rail and road.
  • Improve local sanitation and sewerage systems along with making clean drinking water available to all.
  • Develop last-mile connectivity by encouraging local participation in getting involved in providing low-cost, clean and affordable local transport.
  • Train local youth with the aim of creating more employment opportunities in all services related support infrastructure.
  • Promote local arts and crafts; encourage presentation of local culture of dance, music and costume through performances; promote local cuisines through training; and encourage more retail points to serve tourists.

The Benefit

Local infrastructure development through affordable housing, hotels and guest houses; road and walkways; improved and affordable catering options; more retail points; better local transport options; improved connectivity with other regions; higher employment opportunities along the support chain; and preservation of local culture and tradition.

Funds Allocated for promoting PRASAD

In early 2016, PRASAD was formally launched as part of ‘Swadesh Darshan’ with a total budget allocation of Rs 2,048 crore to fund 25 projects.

In the 2016-17 Budget, the following sites have been allocated funds under PRASAD:

  • Dwarka, Gujarat – Rs 26.23 crore
  • Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu: Rs 16.48 crore
  • Vellankanni, Tamil Nadu: Rs 5.60 crore
  • Belur, West Bengal: Rs 30.03 crore
  • Hazratbal, J&K: Rs 42.02 crore