Heritage Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel to remain with Jungle Lodges
Madikeri/Mysuru: A grand Dasara-like Gangotsava at Talakad, a ‘hi-tech haat’ at Dasara Exhibition Grounds in Mysuru, adventure water sports at Harangi in Kodagu are among immediate plans of Tourism Minister C.P. Yogeeshwar for Mysuru and Kodagu.
The Minister was on a private visit to Kodagu along with his family since yesterday and visited Harangi Dam and Dubare Elephant Camp. Today afternoon, he is scheduled to visit Somnathpur Temple, Mudukuthore and Talakad, all in Mysuru district, where he is expected to announce ‘Gangotsava’ to commemorate the rule of Gangas and their contribution to art, culture and sculpture.
Meanwhile, at a progress review meeting of Tourism Department in Bengaluru on July 15, it was decided not to hand over Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel to Taj Group that had evinced keen interest to run the Heritage Hotel.
The Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR), a unit of the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC), is running the Hotel now and will continue to manage the Hotel. The JLR took over the Lalitha Mahal property from India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) in 2018.
In January this year, the Tata Group, represented by Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran, had offered to run the luxury hotel at a virtual meeting that was chaired by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa. The meeting was also attended by Puneet Chhatwal, Managing Director of Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL), a group company of TATA’s under which the Taj Hotels are managed.
Though the Taj Group has a track record in restoring and managing Palace properties in places like Udaipur, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Hyderabad and Gwalior, the Government later decided to continue with the JLR as it cannot favour any one business group while handing over a Government enterprise like the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel which has a heritage value to a private player.
As per norms, if at all the Government decides to hand over the State-run enterprise to private parties, it has to do so after floating a Request For Proposals (RFP) or global tenders.
Kodagu visit : During his stay in Kodagu, Yogeeshwar visited the Harangi Dam and Elephant Camp at Dubare run by the Forest Department. Speaking to reporters, the Tourism Minister, who also holds the Environment and Ecology portfolios, said that he had plans to introduce adventure sports at Harangi Dam Backwaters in association with private players.
“This is my private and unofficial trip and I will officially visit Kodagu to announce more tourism projects. I have informally told the officials to prepare a plan of action for adventure sports at Harangi Dam Backwaters,” he said.
Gangotsava at Talakad
The Gangas ruled over most parts of Mysore called Gangavadi up to Kolar from the second half of the 4th century to 1004 AD, when Raja Raja I (985-1014 AD) of Chola dynasty, captured Talakad and named it Rajarajapura. After nearly a century, it passed on to Vishnuvardhana (1111-1141 AD), founder of the Hoysala dynasty, early in the 12th century.
Talakad was ruled by Gangas, Cholas and Hoysalas and all the rulers have left their imprints on Talakad by building temples. Some of the temples built by them are Vaidyeshwara, Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Anandeswara, Arakeshwara, Gauri Shankar, Keerti Narayana and Chowdeshwari.
The temples of Pathaleshwara (Vasukeeswara), Maruleshwara, Arakeshwara, Mallikarjuna and Vaidyeshwara constitute the Panchalingas representing the five faces of Lord Shiva. Of these, Vaidyeshwara, Pathaleshwara and Maruleshwara are in Talakad, while Arakeshwara and Mallikarjuna are at Vijayapura and Mudukuthore or Bettahalli.
The Gangotsava will be held on a grand scale like Mysuru Dasara. Already, Talakad is famous for the Panchalinga Darshana held once in 12 years on New Moon Day in the month of Karthika.
Hi-tech Haat in Mysuru
At the Tourism Department review meeting, Minister Yogeeshwar expressed interest in creating a ‘Hi-tech Haat’ at the Dasara Exhibition Grounds in Mysuru, which depict the art, culture, folklore and tourism aspects.
He asked the Department officials to prepare a project blueprint, which could be taken up at the State Cabinet meeting for discussion and approval. This should facilitate the organisation of ‘India Expo 2023’ in Mysuru, he said.
Already, the Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA), which holds the Dasara Exhibition annually, is developing a master plan for converting the Dasara Exhibition Grounds into a round-the-clock exhibition and events hub. The KEA has a proposal to hold exhibitions, events, conventions and amusement activities throughout the year, with the Exhibition Grounds now limited to just holding Dasara events.