Source: The Times of India Relevance: GS I (Art and Culture), GS II (Government policies and intervention)

Context: The Ministry of Tourism has included the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ajanta and Ellora caves in Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar in its Swadesh Darshan Scheme II.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme:

  • Launched by the Ministry of Tourism of the Indian government in 2015, the Swadesh Darshan Scheme aims to promote the development of sustainable and eco-friendly tourist spots throughout the country.

  • This scheme, entirely funded by the central government, provides monetary assistance to State governments, Union Territory Administrations, or Central Agencies for building tourism infrastructure.

  •  The responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the projects sanctioned under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme falls on the respective State Government or UT Administration.

  • The scheme emphasizes thematic tourism, organizing various tourist destinations into themes or "circuits." There are several circuits available, including Buddhist, Coastal, Desert, Eco, Heritage, Himalayan, Krishna, North-East, Ramayan, Rural, Spiritual, Sufi, Tirthankar, Tribal, and Wildlife circuits.

Swadesh Darshan Scheme 2.0:

  • Realizing India’s full potential as a tourist destination, the redesigned Swadesh Darshan 2.0 initiative aims to achieve Aatmanirbhar Bharat; under the motto-vocal for local’

  • Rather than a small change, Swadesh Darshan 2.0 represents a generational shift in the scheme’s evolution toward a comprehensive goal of creating environmentally conscious and sustainable travel destinations.

  •  With a tourist and destination-centric strategy, it will aid in the development of responsible and sustainable destinations.

  • The goal of the Swadesh Darshan 2.0 program is to encourage public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the tourism industry as well as the operation and upkeep of the assets developed under the program, as well as to increase private sector investment in tourism and hospitality.

  • Themes: Under the Swadesh Darshan 2.0 Scheme, adventure, wellness, ecotourism, MICE, beach, rural, and ocean and inland cruises are among the major tourism themes that have been identified.

PRASAD Scheme:

  • Launch: The Indian government’s Ministry of Tourism introduced the Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spirituality Augmentation Drive (PRASAD Scheme) in 2014–2015.

  •  The National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) was the new name given to it in October 2017.


  • To locate and develop India’s pilgrimage destinations in order to increase religious tourism.

  • To guarantee the planned, prioritized, and sustainable integration of pilgrimage sites in order to improve the experience of religious tourism.

  • To encourage the involvement of multiple stakeholders in the community-based development of pilgrimage sites.

  • To improve the facilities at holy locations in order to offer top-notch travel experiences.

  • To encourage regional artists, handicrafts, cuisine, culture, etc. in order to create jobs and revenue.

  •  To use funds and public knowledge for the construction of pilgrimage sites.

Ajanta Caves:

  • Situated on the Waghora River close to Aurangabad, Maharashtra, in the Sahyadri hills (Western Ghats).

  • Consists of 29 Buddhist caves, of which 4 serve as Chaitya (prayer halls) and 25 as Viharas (residential caves).

  • Built between 650 A.D. and 200 B.C.

  • Written by Buddhist monks with assistance from Vakataka kings such as Chalukyas, Satavahanas, and Harisena.

  • Accounts of Chinese Travellers: During the reigns of Chandragupta II and Harshavardhana, respectively, Fa-Hien and Hiuen Tsang made visits.

  •  Executed utilizing fresco painting with a Buddhist theme, illustrating the Jataka stories and the life of the Buddha.

  • UNESCO Site: In 1983, the site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Ellora Caves:

  • Located in Maharashtra’s Sahyadri range, about 100 kilometers from the Ajanta Caves.

  • Consisting of 34 caves, of which 12 are Buddhist, 5 are Jain, and 17 are Brahmanical.

  • Built between the fifth and the eleventh centuries A.D. by a number of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Vidarbha guilds.

  •  Backed by the Yadavas, Kalachuris, Chalukyas, and Rashtrakutas, demonstrating religious concord.

  •  Temple Kailasa: Famous for the world’s largest monolithic rock excavation, honoring Lord Shiva, is Kailasa (Kailasanatha; cave 16).

  • UNESCO Site: In 1983, the site was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Advait IAS