Maharashtra Seeks UNESCO Recognition for Wari, Ganeshotsav and Dahi-Handi, Announces Tourism Boost Projects


Maharashtra is aiming to solidify its position as a cultural and historical hub. The state government, led by Eknath Shinde, Devendra Fadnavis, and Ajit Pawar, has announced plans to seek UNESCO’s recognition for three of Maharashtra’s most iconic festivals – Pandharpur Wari, Ganeshotsav, and Dahi-Handi.

Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister, Ajit Pawar, unveiled these plans during the presentation of the state budget for 2024-25. Recognizing the significance of the Wari pilgrimage, Pawar announced a special allocation of Rs. 20,000 per procession to support the ‘Dindi’ (procession) traditions carried out by lakhs of ‘Varkaris’ (pilgrims). A new organization, the Mukhya Mantri Warkari Sampradaya Mahamandal, will also be established to provide facilities for ‘Kirtankars’ (devotional singers), ‘Varkaris’, and ‘Bhajan Mandals’ (devotional music groups), along with managing the Palkhi route.

Furthermore, the government will be pursuing UNESCO World Heritage Site nominations for twelve forts associated with the legendary Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Additionally, the unique geoglyphs found in the coastal Konkan belt are also being considered for World Heritage recognition.

Boosting Tourism Across the State

Maharashtra’s tourism sector is set for a major boost with several new projects announced in the budget. A world-class submarine tourism project is planned for Vengurla in Sindhudurg, estimated to cost Rs. 66 crore. The Sahyadri mountains will see significant investment, with an integrated tourism development plan worth Rs. 381.56 crore earmarked for the Western Ghats region of Satara. This plan encompasses projects like the development of Sri Kshetra Mahabaleshwar, conservation efforts at Pratapgad Fort, and the promotion of Sahyadri Tiger Tourism and Koyna-Helwak Forest Tourism.

Recognizing the beauty of Malshej Ghat, a popular monsoon destination, the government will construct a modern viewing gallery equipped with all amenities for visitors.

Cultural and Religious Heritage Sites to be Developed

Places of historical and religious significance will also see improvements. The first phase of development works, estimated at Rs. 150 crore, have been approved for Ramtek, a site associated with Lord Rama. A second phase with an allocation of Rs. 211 crore is planned as well.

Kolhapur will soon boast a state-of-the-art international convention center near the Rajaram Lake. Additionally, memorials for Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj in Shirala (Sangli), Saint Shri Ruplal Maharaj in Anjangaon Surji (Amravati), and spiritual Guru and social reformer Baba Jumdevji in Pavadauna (Nagpur) are planned. Finally, a development plan worth Rs. 77 crore will be created for the temple premises in Nevasa, where Saint Dnyaneshwar Maharaj recited the revered Dnyaneshwari.

By seeking UNESCO recognition for its vibrant festivals and investing in the development of historical, cultural, and religious sites, Maharashtra is poised to attract both domestic and international tourists, solidifying its position as a must-visit destination.

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