Explained: Bringing Back Age-old Link Between Varanasi And Tamil Nadu Through Kashi Tamil Sangamam

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would inaugurate a month-long programme, 'Kashi Tamil Sangamam', in Varanasi to rediscover, reaffirm and celebrate age-old links between Tamil Nadu and Kashi – two of the country's most important and ancient seats of learning. 

Dev Diwali in Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi would inaugurate a month-long programme, 'Kashi Tamil Sangamam', on Friday in Varanasi to rediscover, reaffirm and celebrate age-old links between Tamil Nadu and Kashi – two of the country's most important and ancient seats of learning. 

The programme is being organised by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with other ministries like culture, textiles, railways, tourism, food processing, information and broadcasting, and the Uttar Pradesh government. 

What is Kashi Tamil Sangamam?

The month-long event will celebrate the cultural ties between India's north and south.

The event will see some 2,400 people, who will be taken from Tamil Nadu to Varanasi in groups, for visits. It would also include visits to local areas and trips to Ayodhya and Parayagraj. 

According to a statement by the Ministry of Education, the objective of the event is to bring close the two cultural traditions closer and "create an understanding of the shared heritage and deepen the people-to-people bond between the regions."

What is the link between Kashi and Tamil Nadu?

There are many temples in Tamil Nadu that bear the name of Kashi, other than the famous Kasi Viswanathar temple.
King Parakrama Pandya, who ruled over Madurai in the 15th century, desired to construct a Lord Shiva temple. He visited Kashi to bring a lingam back.

On his journey back, he decided to take a brief rest under a tree. After the halt, he tried to restart his journey, but the cow that was carrying the lingam refused to move.

Even after efforts when the cow did not move, the king understood this to be Lord Shiva's wish, and thus, he installed the lingam there. The place where he installed the lingam is called Sivakasi.

For every devotee who wished to visit the famous Kasi Viswanathar Temple but could not go, the Pandyas have constructed the Kasi Viswanathar Temple in Tenkasi, southwestern Tamil Nadu. The place is close to Tamil Nadu’s border with Kerala.

Besides, spiritual literature in Tamil makes references to Varanasi on numerous occasions.

Although geographically far apart, these two regions share a rich history. 

Dr Vinay Kumar of the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology at Banaras Hindu University told The New Indian Express, “It is very difficult to elaborate on the rich cultural heritage of India in totality. Sometimes, north and south India are seen as two separate streams but, culturally, both these regions share a common spiritual linkage. The link between TN and Varanasi is of special symbolism.

What will the event see?

"The programme aims to provide an opportunity for scholars, students, philosophers, traders, artisans, artists and people from other walks of life from the two regions to come together, share their knowledge, culture and best practices and learn from each others’ experience," a senior Ministry of Education (MoE) official said. 

"The endeavour is in sync with the new National Education Policy 2020’s emphasis on integrating the wealth of Indian knowledge systems with modern systems of knowledge.

"IIT Madras and the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are the two implementing agencies for the programme," the official added.

More than 2,500 delegates from Tamil Nadu under 12 categories such as students, teachers, literature, culture, artisans, spiritual, heritage, business, entrepreneurs, and professionals will be visiting Varanasi on an eight-day tour. 

"They will participate in seminars and site visits in special programmes curated for each of the 12 categories to interact with local people of the same trade, profession and interest. The delegates will also visit places of interest in and around Varanasi, including Prayagraj and Ayodhya.

"Students of BHU and other Higher Educational Institutions will be participating in the academic programmes," the official said.

"They will study the comparative practices pertaining to various sectors in the two regions and document the learnings. The first group of delegates consisting of 200 students started their tour from Chennai on November 17 and their train was flagged off by Governor of Tamil Nadu R N Ravi from Chennai Railway Station," the official added.

A month-long exhibition of handlooms, handicrafts, books, documentaries, cuisine, art forms, history, and tourist places of the two regions will be put up in Varanasi for the benefit of the local people.

During the inaugural programme, the prime minister will interact with the delegates coming from Tamil Nadu. The inauguration ceremony will witness various cultural performances such as vocal renditions by Ilaiyaraaja and book releases.

Meanwhile, final touches are being given to the BHU event and Modi is expected to be there for about two hours, officials said.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday took stock of the preparations and stressed that the event being held in the prime minister's constituency will be wonderful and historic.

Talking to reporters, Pradhan said he got the opportunity to meet the nephew of Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi, K V Krishnan and his family on Friday.

"The home of Bharati, one of the greatest Tamil litterateurs of all times, at the Kashi Hanuman Ghat has been a centre of learning and a holy pilgrimage," Pradhan said.

"Bharathi's writings on social justice and women empowerment are relevant even today. It was in Kashi where Bharathi got inclined towards spirituality and nationalism and he remained devoted to this for the entire of his life," Pradhan said.

The district administration has made elaborate arrangements to welcome the guests from Tamil Nadu, officials said.


Divisional Commissioner Kaushal Raj Sharma held an important meeting and issued necessary guidelines to officials of the Tourism Department, Municipal Corporation and Civil Defence as well as unions of auto drivers and boatmen.

Sharma also directed all e-rickshaw drivers, auto-rickshaw drivers, civil defence volunteers and tourist guides to learn some Tamil phrases and words to facilitate communication with the guests from the southern state. 

(With PTI inputs)