350km from Lucknow, 'Bhagwati Van' to be the spiritual tourism hub in UP

A total of 3.5 lakh trees, of more than 250 species, have been planted at Bhagwati Van!

The Uttar Pradesh government plans to develop an eco-tourism spot that could provide a perfect place for people looking for a spiritual sojourn. The government has decided to develop the Bhagwati Van along the Ganga, in Kasganj district, as a centre for spiritual tourism.

The Bhagwati Van is a man-made forest which is unique in more ways than one. The forest has been raised over 316 hectares of land, which has been reclaimed by the state government from encroachers. A total of 3.5 lakh trees, of more than 250 species, have been planted here.

Divisional forest officer (DFO), Kasganj, Diwaker Kumar Vashisht said, "We had been meeting villagers and convincing them since October last year to remove the encroachments. After the villagers agreed to vacate the land, we formed a local 'samiti' of villagers. It was all done without any public agitation."

The forest, which has its base in Puranic scriptures, is at Datlana Khaam village and has been declared as a Ganga 'gram'."It has Soronji 'teerth' and devotees from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and other states come to this shrine," said Vashisht.

The entire reclaimed land is divided into three parts. The forest raised at the spot has trees planted in specific formations to create 'vatikas' (gardens) mentioned in religious scriptures.

"We planted over two lakh trees in Mahavan forest, which is one of the three parts and has species like Sheesham and Khair that are naturally found along the Ganga. The other part is 'Shreevan', which has connection with 'Arth Ganga' under the central government's Namami Gange project. This has species which will be economically beneficial to farmers. We had promised farmers that we would help them increase their income through this plantation," he said.

The third is 'Tapovan' which has 51,000 trees and Vyas and Vidur 'kutirs'. At present, the forest is being managed by the forest department but later local groups of villagers may look after it.

The 'Dhanvantari Vatika' has 75 types of medicinal plants and herbs. The 'Nakshatra Vatika' has 27 tree varieties, planted in specific positions to represent 27 'nakshatras' (planets).

The 'Navgrah Vatika', planted to manage planetary influences, is also a part of it. 'Harishankari', has trees like 'peepal, pakad and bargad' planted together. The three tree varieties represent the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. 'Panchvati', the garden of five tree varieties mentioned in the Ramayana, also finds place here.

- With inputs from IANS

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