Religious Tourism Boosts Post-Pandemic Travel To Uttar Pradesh

Record-breaking numbers of devotees are flocking to key pilgrimage venues in Uttar Pradesh and their spiritual fervour shows no signs of slowing down
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi welcomed 9.5 million visitors in March 2024
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi welcomed 9.5 million visitors in March 2024meunierd/Shutterstock

The Ram Temple’s inauguration in Ayodhya earlier this year sent ripple effects all over India and the world as tourists sought to visit the holy city and pay their respects to the deity.

Since that event key pilgrimage sites in Uttar Pradesh have witnessed an influx of religious devotees thronging places of worship in Varanasi, Mathura and Ayodhya. Varanasi tops the list with a record-breaking 9.5 million pilgrims visiting in March to seek the blessings of Kashi Vishwanath. The construction of a new pedestrian corridor has contributed to this surge. Additionally, donations to the temple have seen a considerable rise and the amount generated in March alone broke all previous records—akin to INR 110 million—the highest for any single month according to temple management.

The Ram Temple in Ayodhya was inaugurated in January 2024
The Ram Temple in Ayodhya was inaugurated in January 2024Prime Minister's Office/Wikimedia

Typically, the month of Sawan witnesses massive gatherings at Kashi Vishwanath. Similarly, in Ayodhya, more than 200,000 visitors visited the newly constructed Ram Temple and Hanuman Garhi each day during the month of March. In Mathura-Vrindavan, the surge in crowds began 15 days before the festival of Holi and has shown no signs of abating yet, with pilgrims even seeking accommodation in Agra due to a lack of space in hotels, ashrams and guesthouses.

There has been a notable increase in the number of flights operating from the recently operational airport in Ayodhya. Presently, there are 24 daily flights operating from the city with some routes being serviced twice a week and others four times a week.

The Krishna Janmasthan Temple Complex in Mathura
The Krishna Janmasthan Temple Complex in Mathurasaiko3p/Shutterstock

Prakhar Mishra, the state’s director of tourism, anticipates that the newly constructed Ayodhya temple and the corridors in Varanasi and Mathura-Vrindavan will not only attract tourists from all corners of the country but also significantly boost local markets, particularly those associated with the One District One Product (ODOP) initiative.

He said that these projects will set new records in terms of tourist footfall and draw visitors eager to explore the rich cultural and religious heritage of Uttar Pradesh. The enhanced connectivity and amenities provided by these developments is expected to increase demand for locally produced goods and services, thus generating employment opportunities.

Holi celebrations at the Banke Bihari Mandir in Vrindavan
Holi celebrations at the Banke Bihari Mandir in VrindavanArnav Pratap Singh/Shutterstock

The end goal is for tourism to not only serve as a means of cultural exchange and economic growth but also as a catalyst for community development and empowerment.

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