“Do our politicians consider the Chamundi Hills as a tourist centre or a place of pilgrimage, let them answer this question first,” Dr Bhyrappa asks
The annual revenue turnover from the devotees’ visits to the Chamundi Hills has gone up from Rs 18 crore to Rs 23.50 crore; a four-storeyed structure for the convenience of devotees to park their cars; three-storeyed commercial complex building to accommodate 116 shops and the plans to widen the present two-way road to four-way road as revealed by the chief minister two weeks earlier and the works being undertaken for the same was read from the newpapers, said noted writer Dr S L Bhyrappa. In a statement released to the press on Monday, Bhyrappa said that the speed in which the development works have been initiated gives rise to several speculations. Siddaramaiah is not the first person to have cast his eyes on the development works at Chamundi Hills; ropeway and several other projects were planned by the previous politicians which had to be shelved following strong opposition from the people, said Bhyrappa. “Do our politicians consider the Chamundi Hills as a tourist centre or a place of pilgrimage, let them answer this question first,” Bhyrappa asks.
People from across the country who visit the Chamundi Hills and a majority of them from Karnataka, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are pilgrims and the devotees (Bengalis) of Durga consider Chamundi as another form of Durga and pay a visit to Chamundi Temple; likewise the pilgrims from other states too follow the same, he added. Bhyrappa points out that there are hundreds of shops in Mysuru which sell lo-cal products to the pilgrims showcasing the city. “How can the ‘sanctity’ of a pilgrimage place like Chamundi Hills be preserved with the construction of a shopping mall comprising 116 shops and a multi-storeyed building to park 600 cars, resembling a fair? Does the government have permission to convert all pilgrimage places into tourist places? Does the conversion of a pilgrim centre into a tourist centre not affect the pilgrims who seek peace and serenity at a place of worship and thus lead to a decrease in their numbers? Does this not lead to a situation where `Tourism kills tourism?’ ”
Dr Bhyrappa’s do’s and don’ts for hills: The hill also comprises boulders resulting in the rise in temperatures during summer months in Mysuru; the services of botanists must be en- gaged to grow plants and trees in the crevices between boulders and all over the hills to convert the hill into a green zone. Nilgiri trees should not be grown atop the hills. Allow only shops selling puja materials and curtail other shops. Pilgrims should be accessible to hygienic food and faclities at reasonable price, with one or two catering centres.
There must be enough number of free toilets for the convenience of pilgrims and adequate staff to maintain cleanliness. Saplings which can grow as trees to provide shade on either side of the footsteps leading to the Chamundi Temple must be planted. Apart from pilgrims, school and college students must be encouraged to take up climbing on the steps.
Police must ensure safety to girls, women and youth even while climbing the steps alone. Create separate park-ing places for bicycles, two wheelers and cars at the foot of the steps. Depute responsible staff to register the entry of vehicles and the pilgrims belongings. The salary of the staff should be borne by the temple authorities and parking fees should be reasonable. Free toilet facilities and potable water should be provided at the foot of the steps.
All illegal structures, except the authorised ones, must be removed from the foot of the hills and around it so that trees like pipal, banyan, neem and olive can be grown for the benefit of birds.
CCTV cameras to control speeding vehicles must be installed at vantage points on the present two-way road. Entry of autorickshaws must be banned. All the previous years projects should be dropped. Run more battery operated cars and curtail cars run on diesel and petrol. The main road should be for vehicles proceeding to the hills and the alternate road should be used for returning.
To maintain the sacred feelings among the pilgrims, the trees must be preserved amidst the serene atmopshere, thus enhancing the puja offerings at the temple to meet their needs. Revenue should not be the main agenda for the temple authorities. Government should not have a stake in the temple’s financial dealings. People who do not have faith and who don’t visit temples too have deep concern for the environment. Hence, the relationship between sanctity and environment is intertwined.
There is ample space atop Tirupathi Hills and footsteps are far away from the hills. However, the pathway to Chamundi Hills is narrow and city is spread out around the hills. By extending the city’s growth atop the hills will only benefit contractors and politicians. The greenery around the hills will be destroyed. If Mysureans wish to save Mysuru, they must first save Chamundi Hills as it is the `Heart of the city.