Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal opened renovated ancient prominent shrine of Shri Awah Devi jee to the devotees by performing ceremonial pooja ‘havan’ and other rituals at Awah Devi in district Hamirpur, on Ram Navami, 9th pious Navratra festival, today. The shrine of Shri Awah Devi jee is located at the highest point in district Hamirpur bordering district Mandi and has a large following within and outside the country. The renovation work had been completed in world famous white marble of Rajasthan and carried by Muslim artisans Hazi Sharafat Ali and Hazi Liyakat Ali of Makarana, who made the renovated temple, a prominent shrine for devotees to pray and perform devotional services. The renovation work was carried at a cost of Rs. 67.50 lakh.

Addressing the congregation of the devotees, Chief Minister said that the State Government had got approved Rs.428 crore Asian Development Bank Project to strengthen tourism infrastructure in the State and also renovate and facelift the existing old religious shrines in the State. He said that temples at Baba Balak Nath jee, Sujanpur, Nadaun, Gasota were being renovated besides providing basic amenities to the devotees visiting the shrines. He said that efforts were being made to equip all prominent shrines in the state with basic amenities to facilitate visits of devotees. He said that additionally, Taal was also being developed into one of the tourist destinations in district Hamirpur and crores of rupees were being spent over renovation, wayside amenities and tourism infrastructure development activities in district Hamirpur alone.

Prof. Dhumal said that a ropeway project to connect prominent shrine of Baba Balak Nath jee with Shah Talai was in the pipeline and would facilitate tourists of the devotees to the shrine besides adding to quality tourism infrastructure in the State. He said that Himachal Pradesh had emerged the choicest destination for tourism in the country as record 1.5 crore tourists had visited the State during preceding year which included highest number of foreigners. He said that the State had peaceful environment to attract tourists to holiday in close proximity with mother nature and return home re-energised. He appealed to the common man to exhibit best hospitality manners to the visitors and guide them properly so that they could feel comfortable to enjoy the natural grandeur of the State to its optimum. He also appealed to the people to maintain best hygienic conditions in and around their villages so that rural tourism could be promoted in real sense.

Chief Minister honoured the officers, officials and the artisans who had put in hard labour and completed the temple in a record time of nine months. Later Chief Minister also performed ‘Purn Ahuti’ of ‘Katha Saptah’ at Gajoh temple.

Om Prakash Sharma, Pradhan, Shri Awah Devi Temple Management Committee, thanked the Chief Minister for providing adequate funds to renovate the prominent shrine. He also detailed the devotional activities being undertaken in daily prayer services in the temple. Vijay Bhandari, Secretary of the Committee, welcomed the Chief Minister and apprised him of the devotional services being carried in the shrine. Ishwar Dass Dhiman, Education Minister, Baldev Sharma and Urmil Thakur, MLAs, M.C.Parmar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director, HP Ex-Servicemen Welfare Board, Pyare Lal Sharma, Chairman, APMC and State President, BJP Kisan Morcha, Smt. Sarla Sharma, Chairperson, Zila Parishad, Des Raj Sharma, President, District Hamirpur BJP, Deep Kumar, President, Municipal Council, Hamirpur, Rajender Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Kuldeep Sharma, SP, B.T. Negi, Chief Engineer, PWD, other senior officers and prominent people of the area were present among others.