Maharashtra ‘theme state’ at Surajkund Mela

FARIDABAD, Haryana: Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has announced a grant of Rs 3 crore for a war memorial being constructed in Haryana to honor the Maratha warriors who fought in the third battle of Panipat.

The announcement was made here at the 33rd Surajkund International Crafts Mela, which was jointly inaugurated by Fadnavis and his Haryana counterpart Manohar Lal Khattar. The fair will continue till February 17.

Speaking on the occasion, Khattar announced that the site of the war memorial in Panipat district’s Kala Amb would be expanded from present eight acres to 20 acres.

A separate special memorial to showcase the history and bravery of Marathas through the medium of light and sound would also be constructed on four acres of land on GT Road, Khattar added.

In his address, Fadnavis said more than one lakh brave Marathas of Maharashtra sacrificed their lives in the third battle of Panipat, which was fought between the Marathas and the Afghan army in 1761.

Maharashtra and Haryana share close ties and thousands of Marathas were living in Haryana, he said.

Fadnavis expressed his gratitude to Khattar for choosing Maharashtra as the ‘theme state’ in the Surajkund fair and invited domestic and foreign tourists to the state, saying it had a lot to offer.

“We are going to start a Ramayana festival in Maharashtra,” he said.

Speaking about the fair, Khattar said events such as the Surajkund mela strengthen the unity and integrity of the country. “In this mela, over 31 countries are participating,” he said.

Khattar said his government had signed an agreement with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, under which artists of Haryana will promote the cultural heritage of the state in foreign countries.

Haryana Tourism Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said that last year, 25 countries had participated in the fair, 600 stalls were put up and 16 lakh visitors had visited the fair.

“This year, 31 countries are participating and the number of stalls have also been increased to over 1,400. We have made 10 acres of land available adjoining Surajkund for parking, by freeing it from encroachment,” he said.

Additional Chief Secretary, Haryana Tourism, Vijai Vardhan said Maharashtra, the theme state of the fair this year, was showcasing its unique culture and rich heritage through various art forms and handicrafts.

Hundreds of artistes from Maharashtra will be performing different folk arts and dances, he said. From traditional dances and art forms to ballets based on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, there is a bouquet of heritage and culture from Maharashtra to enthral the audience, he added.

The main attraction of the fair is a replica of ‘Maha Dwar’ or ‘Maha Darwaza’ – the main entrance of the historic hill fort of Raigad, said the official. PTI

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