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26 Feb, 2024 08:41

Modi’s underwater ‘pilgrimage’ goes viral (VIDEO)

The Indian leader went scuba diving in Dwarka, considered one of the most sacred sites by the Hindus
Modi’s underwater ‘pilgrimage’ goes viral (VIDEO)

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on an underwater pilgrimage to a submerged section of the city of Dwarka located on India’s west coast in the state of Gujarat on Sunday. The ancient town is believed to be closely connected to the Hindu deity Krishna.

A cinematic video of Modi’s pilgrimage was later uploaded on social media platforms and received 3.3 million impressions on X (formerly Twitter) alone. In the video, the Indian leader can be seen wearing a wetsuit and performing yoga postures under the water's surface. He also offered peacock feathers – believed to be worn by the Hindu deity – as tribute.

Scuba diving is a popular tourist attraction in the town. It is conducted near Beyt Dwarka island where visitors can see underwater remains of an ancient section of the town excavated by archaeologists. According to UNESCO, the search for the submerged portion of Dwarka began in the 1930s. The first archaeological excavation took place in 1963.

Modi was assisted in his descent by several divers presumed to be Indian Navy personnel. “Those moments will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Modi can be heard saying in a voiceover to the video. The Indian leader stated that he felt connected to “an ancient era of spiritual grandeur and timeless devotion.” 

“I had always been curious to go there and touch the remains of the ancient Dwarka city,” the Prime Minister later said in a public gathering. “I am full of emotions today. A decades-old dream was completed today.”

Modi has been seeking to boost religious tourism in India while the country prepares for national elections this year. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is so far seen as a clear frontrunner. Last month, the prime minister inaugurated a $218 million temple dedicated to the deity Lord Ram in Ayodhya, fulfilling one of his key promises from his 2019 election campaign.

The temple was built on the site where in 1992 a 16th-century mosque was razed by Hindu nationalists, who believed that the Muslim invaders had erected the building on the ruins of a Hindu temple.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the land rightfully belongs to the Hindus, while directing the government to allot a separate plot where a new mosque can be built. The Indian government has been promoting the Ayodhya temple as a must-see tourist destination and around 100 million people are expected to visit every year, the Hindustan Times reported, citing global brokerage firm Jefferies.

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