Centre to connect Shankaracharya temple with a ropeway

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Srinagar: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has allocated Rs 126.58 crore for the ropeway connectivity to the Shankaracharya temple in Srinagar.

To be completed by December 2026, it is expected to cut the travel time between the city and the Hindu shrine on a hilltop to around five minutes. At present, it takes at least half an hour, most of it by road followed by a short hike.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to the Kashmir Valley on Thursday, also posed against the backdrop of the Shankaracharya hill, atop which sits the temple. He offered his reverence to the temple and later posted on X: “Upon reaching Srinagar a short while ago, had the opportunity to see the majestic Shankaracharya hill from a distance.”

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), union minister Nitin Gadkari said the ropeway will run from the SDA Parking, near Zabarwan Park, directly to the temple. “Spanning 1.05 km in Srinagar district, this initiative operates on the Hybrid Annuity Mode, utilizing MonoCable Detachable Gondola (MDG) technology with a capacity to transport 700 PPHPD (passengers per hour per direction),” he wrote.

The ropeway commute will also offer a panoramic view of Srinagar, including Dal Lake, besides being a faster option for pilgrims. “It ensures easy access for individuals with disabilities and senior citizens to visit the temple, reducing travel time from approximately 30 minutes to about 5 minutes,” Gadkari further said. Additionally, it serves as an eco-friendly mode of transport and is likely to create employment opportunities by enhancing tourism.

Gondolas or cable cars on ropeways are seen as a relatively more viable option in some challenging terrains. This mode was first used in India in 1968, and about 65 km of ropeways are operational at present. Many new projects are at various stages, and at least eight are expected to be ready by 2026, including the Srinagar one.

In the 2022-23 Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a National Ropeways Development Programme to be implemented in the public-private partnership mode. At present, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways manages it.