Modiís hometown adds progress to heritage


Narendra Modi studied at B N High School till the age of 15, says Rajendra Modi, a government official. "He then left for Ahmedabad to become an RSS pracharak. He did not return here until his father Damodardas Mulchand Modi died, by which time he was in his forties. Six years ago, he took his mother to live with him."

Though he is rarely here, it is Modi who is credited with all the progress. Vadnagar is part of Unjha Assembly constituency, represented by the BJP's Narayan Lallu Patel, who says, "Before Narendrabhai Modi as chief minister, all Vadnagar had in the name of development was babul trees. After he became chief minister, the town has flourished. A Gujarat heritage centre is being developed at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore."

For the last few years, the tourism department has been hosting a Tana-Riri Mahotsav, named after a pair of singing sisters with musician Tansen in Emperor Akbar's court. Excavations in 2009 unearthed a Buddhist monastery with relics intact, and the tourism department plans to woo international visitors. "Vadnagar has given us an uninterrupted sequence of structures with stupas intact," says Y S Rawat, head of the Gujarat archaeology department. "There were around 10 Buddhist monasteries that housed at least 1,000 monks. We have unearthed one; the city has gained prominence the world over."

Some of the growth has spilled over to neighbouring areas. Kamaalpur, a village of 2,250 people and 4 km from Vadnagar, is thriving on its prominence and boasts concrete roads. Jowar, bajri, cotton and castor, the main crops, have seen a slowdown in yield because of delayed rains, yet the mood is upbeat.

"Since every family is into milk procurement, we are making do. This village contributes 1,700 litres daily to the Dudhsagar dairy in Mehsana," says J R Patel, retired milk procurement officer at the Mehsana dairy and a Vadnagar resident.

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