Shankaracharya of Jyotir and Dwarika Peeths, Swaroopanand Saraswati has expressed concern at the tendency to turn pilgrimage centres in Uttarakhand into tourist destinations.
The phenomenal rush observed in the Char Dham Yatra this year shows that people are coming to the city of Ganga (Haridwar) mainly to beat the heat and not to gain any religious merit. To cater to the needs of the tourists, more and more farmers are giving up their land to build hotels which is another matter of concern, said Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati.
Speaking to The Pioneer, the Shankaracharya said that the sole aim of the government in the state of Uttarakhand is to earn profits and draw economic benefits by promoting tourism. The whole aim of pilgrimage seems to have been relegated to the backseat. It is a must to maintain the decorum and religious importance of the Haridwar city lest it becomes a picnic spot.
He also reiterated his demand for renaming of Dehradun airport after Adi Shankaracharya rather than proposed name of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He condemned the construction of dams on rivers in the mountains in the state and making of passages by carrying out detonations in mountains which is affecting the natural water resources and the biodiversity of the region. The traditional gharat (water mill) should be encouraged more than hydro power projects, the Shankaracharya stressed.