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Somnath Temple, Charminar among new places chosen for Swachh iconic places initiative

The government has announced the names of ten new Iconic places under the Phase II of Swachh Iconic Places initiative. Swachh Iconic Places (SIP) is an initiative of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission.

The ten new iconic places that will be undertaken in Phase II of Swachh Iconic Places initiative are: Gangotri, Yamunotri. Mahakaleshwar Temple (Ujjain), Char Minar (Hyderabad), Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assissi (Goa), Adi Shankaracharya’s abode Kaladi in Ernakulam, Gomateshwar in Shravanbelgola, Baijnath Dham (Devghar), Gaya Tirth (Bihar) and Somnath temple in Gujarat.

The ten Iconic places that are already under implementation in Phase I are: Ajmer Sharif Dargah, CST Mumbai, Golden Temple (Amritsar), Kamakhya Temple (Assam), Maikarnika Ghat (Varanasi),  Meenakshi Temple (Madurai) Shri Mata Vaishno Devi (Katra, J&K),  Shree Jagannath Temple (Puri), The Taj Mahal (Agra), Tirupati Temple (Tirumala).

The aim of this initiative is to make these places intensely clean and transform them as model ‘Swachh Tourist Destinations’, that will enhance the experience of visitors from India and abroad.

Background

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission, a special clean-up initiative will be carried out on 100 iconic heritage, spiritual and cultural places in the country. The Swachh Bharat Mission was launched on 2 October 2014 to make India clean and open defecation free by 2019 to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will be the coordinating Ministry for this initiative, in association with the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and the concerned State governments. So far, under Swachh Bharat Mission, the sanitation coverage has increased to 64% with 1.92 lakh villages becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF).

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India’s first sea ropeway to connect Mumbai & Elephanta Island

India’s first and longest ropeway is planned to be constructed by the Mumbai Port Trust to link Mumbai with the famous Elephanta Island in the Arabian Sea. Elephanta Island has got global recognition for its famed Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 8-km long ropeway will start from Sewri in Mumbai’s east coast and end at Elephanta Island at Raigad district.

The 40-minute ride by a 20-seater cable car is expected to boost tourism as it offers a magnificent view of mudflats on the east coast especially during the flamingo season, the mangroves as well as the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link to the north.

At present, the islands are accessible only by ferries from the mainland and takes around an hour for the 10-km cruise. Other details like the cable height and capacity of cars are being worked out.

Elephanta Island

Elephanta Island is a 16 sq. km island that has several archaeological remains famous for its cave sculptures. The island is locally known as Gharapuri Caves. It is located in Mumbai Harbour, east of Mumbai, Maharashtra. The island is believed to be inhabited from 2nd century BC but the famous temples carved out of rocks are believed to have been constructed around 5th-6th century AD. The island has a dam to conserve freshwater collected during monsoons and two British-era canons atop a hill that offers a panoramic view of Mumbai. The much famed two-day Elephanta Cultural Festival is organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation in winters.

At present, the island is inhabited by around 1,200 residents. The inhabitants are mostly fisherfolk and farmers who live in three tiny port villages called Rajbandar, Shentbandar and Morabandar. Tourists, however, are not permitted to have an overnight stay at the island as it is covered with thick forests.

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