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India’s First Lighthouse Festival opens in Goa; spotlight on 75 historical sites to be developed as major Tourist Destinations

Bharatiya Prakash Sthamb Utsav aims to transform Historic Lighthouses into Tourist Hotspots with PPP route: Shri Sarbananda Sonowal

Flagship venue of the maiden Lighthouse Festival at Fort Aguada in Goa  attended by Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant

Marina Beach in Chennai to host a satellite event on 25th of September, 2023 celebrating the rich heritage of the Indian lighthouse

– The Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated the maiden edition of ‘Bharatiya Prakash Sthamb Utsav’ or Indian Lighthouse Festival at the historic Fort Aguada in Panjim,Goa on 23rd Sept 2023.

The festival is aimed at rejuvenating the rich maritime history of India’s 75 iconic lighthouses and unravel the illustrious stories to the world. At the flagship venue of this maiden event, at the Fort Aguada, the meet was attended by Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Pramod Sawant; the Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Tourism, Shri Shripad Naik; Minister of Tourism, Govt of Goa, Shri Rohan Khaunte; Micheal Lobo, MLA among other senior officials from both state and central governments.

Speaking on the occasion, the Shri Sarbananda Sonowal said, “With the launch of this festival, we are enabling a process to rejuvenate the age old classics in 75 Lighthouses across the coastal India with the sole purpose to unravel the rich heritage of these iconic sites and present them to the world. Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji, India is surging ahead towards becoming an atmanirbhar Bharat. In this pious effort of nation building, we are trying to bring the vision of Modi ji to life by making the iconic Lighthouses to become catalyst of educational, cultural and tourist hotspots. Today, we pay our gratitude to the vision and leadership of our visionary leader, Shri Narendra Modi ji, who championed the transformation of our distinctive lighthouses into captivating heritage tourism sites. For far too long, the silent sentinels of coastlines were left ignored while serving the light of hope to scores of sailors and ships amidst the darkest nights. The “Lighthouse Festival” is our endeavor to change that. It is our mission to inform, engage, and educate all of you about the vital role these historic beacons have played in our nation’s history.”

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Government of India is aiming to leverage the Indian Lighthouse Festival to shore up base for Public Private Partnership route to develop the historic into world class tourist destinations. The Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships has already identified 75 such lighthouses, and this festival is a testament to the commitment of the government to celebrate and preserve our maritime heritage.

The Union Minister said, “The “Lighthouse Festival” is a magnificent celebration that promises to be a captivating journey through time and beauty, a journey that will illuminate the hidden gems of our maritime history and reveal the untold stories of our historic lighthouses. As a part of the Reform to Transform initiative, the Narendra Modi led Government enacted the Marine Aids to Navigation Act, 2021 by repealing the Lighthouse Act, 1927 to provide a framework for development, maintenance and management of aids to navigation in India. Under this, we introduced the innovative concept of Heritage Lighthouse wherein the central government may designate any aid to navigation under its control as a heritage lighthouse. In addition to their function as aids to navigation, such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes. This festival is not just about knowledge; it’s about creating value and opportunities. Beyond the festival, our vision is to promote lighthouses as tourism destinations, to breathe new life into these historic structures, and to create opportunities for local communities and businesses.”

During the day long programme, a session titled Vanguards of Our Shores: Lighthouses as Testaments of Indias Past and Present was held, organized by Bharat Pravah, an initiative of Institute for Governance, Policies and Politics, where famous historian and archaeologist, Prof. Vasant Shinde of the Rakhigarhi fame, spoke about the historical significance of Lighthouses in Indias maritime history. Dr Sunil Gupta, Maritime Archaeologist and OSD at the Pradhanmantri Sangrhalaya, New Delhi; and Dr. Vasu Uspakar, Director of the Goa State Museum also spoke at the session. Joint Secretary of MoPSW presented a case for Ministrys approach towards the Lighthouse Heritage Tourism Development and the investment opportunities across 75 Lighthouses in this phase.

The key highlights of India’s First Lighthouse Festival are cultural exhibitions, session highlighting maritime history and culture, classical performances, light and sound shows, melodious evenings with celebrity singers, flavours of the coast and community engagements.