Pathanamthitta (Ker), Aug 31: The Centre on Monday proposed a Rs 100 crore spiritual tourism circuit for Kerala and assured steps to declare Sabarimala as a national Pilgrimage Centre.
Speaking at the inaugural function of famous Aranmula Boat Race in Pampa river in the district, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma said that along with the state government, the Centre was determined to take Kerala's spiritual potential to new heights.
"Government of India proposes to bring Rs 100 crore for the spirituality circuit of Kerala," he said adding the Centre would also "upgrade" the famous Sree Padmanabha Swamy temple at Thiruvananthapuram.
He said steps would be taken to declare the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala as a National pilgrimage Centre under the 'Prasadam Scheme' of the Union Tourism Ministry.
The scheme was totally devoted to spiritualism, which has been the strength of the nation especially, that of Kerala, he added. It has been a long pending demand of the state government to declare Sabarimala, visited by millions of Ayyappa devotees every year during the three-month long pilgrimage season, as a national pilgrim centre.
Responding to the demand of Aranmula Palliyoda Sangam, the body which conducts the race, Sharama said Rs 51 lakh would be sanctioned as grant for the event.
The Union Minister also said that the Centre would take the initiative to include Aranmula village, known for its unique culture and values, in the UNESCO's heritage list.
It would help the second phase of tourism development projects linking Sabarimala-Aranmula and Kadammanitta Villages, already taken up by the state government, he said.
Speaking on the occasion, State Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said Aranmula boat race was a symbol of religious harmony and secularism. Later, Sharma flagged off the boat race in which 51 snake boats participated.
The race is unique and is related to the Onam festival ritual of the famed Parthasarathy Temple at Aranmula.