A 20 billion Rupee ($286.9 million) project will build a Disneyland-like hub outside the Iskcon temple premises, dubbed Krishnaland.
Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, personally requested the Krishnaland project, which will be carried out in collaboration with the state government.
According to the Times of India, Banerjee held talks with Alfred Ford, of the Ford family, to start the tourism hub. He will invest 20 billion Rupees into the project. Iskcon has drawn up a plan for the tourism hub which has been submitted to Banerjee for her approval.
Radharaman Das, spokesperson of Iskcon, said: “The hub can accommodate 1.5 lakh [150,000] people at a time. Alfred Ford, who is known as Ambarish Das within the Iskcon order, is getting experts from theme parks of across the world to set the Krishnaland (in Disneyland style) in order.”
“A marketplace for artisans”
He added: “The project is way beyond spirituality. We are focussed towards promoting Bengal handlooms and handicrafts from Nadia and Murshidabad. We have specified in our report how the hub will become a marketplace for the artisans.”
Mayapur is the epicentre of traditional Bengal handicrafts.
Visitors will have to adhere to a dress code: saree for women and dhoti for men. These will be woven by handloom weavers of Shantipur and Fulia.
Only earthenware utensils will be used inside the premises: “These will be sourced from the hundreds of potters who live around Mayapur. We will also try to use saal plates and bowls and tie up with the clay doll makers of Ghurni. With 1.5 lakh devotees visiting daily, you can imagine how the hub itself will get converted into a ready market for our artisans,” Das explained.
Alfred Ford is the great-grandson of Henry Ford – the founder of the Ford Motor Company. He has made many donations to ISKCON over the years.
Indian theme parks continue to develop and the industry is growing but South-East Asian attractions are luring the most travellers.
Theme parks have captured the imagination of Indian travellers, say industry experts. Bookings are likely to double by 2024.
Images: Vrindavan Lila via Flickr and Biswarup Ganguly via Wikicommons