Leave Chamundi Hill alone
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Leave Chamundi Hill alone

March 24, 2022

By N.K.A. Ballal,  Retd. Sr. Vice-President, ITDC

Chamundi Hill is back in news again. Of course, for all the wrong reasons. The political class is hell bent on construction of a ropeway on this hillock. This subject comes up every two to three years, gets shelved due to the vehement opposition and then again resurfaces. 

Yes, ropeway is planned for the Nandi Hills which is a tourist attraction but Chamundi Hill is a pilgrimage centre and how can one compare both? Nandi Hills is 4,849 ft. above sea level and Chamundi Hill is 3,489 ft. above sea level. All tourists coming to Mysuru do not go up the hill but only devotees who are keen to have a darshan. Chamundi Hill is an eco-sensitive area; so it is better to leave it alone in peace.

A few years back I went on a trip to the State of Utah [West of USA]. This State is very rocky and rugged and is full of many a National Parks. My daughter took me on a visit to a very famous National Park called the “Delicate Arch,” a huge arch-like formation on a hill.

The Delicate Arch in Utah, United States.

The brochure had informed us in advance that  the climb would be tough and one can view the arch from a point on ground itself. Nevertheless we decided to try climbing the rocky hillock — a 35 degree climb of nearly 1.5 km. They had provided us sticks to help us balance while climbing.

As we  started the climb, the first km was very easy but it started to become quite difficult thereafter. The wind started to blow and there was no shade available for one to rest too. The Delicate Arch is surrounded by a huge rock and there is a small ledge of about 3 ft around the rock. One has to go on that ledge for about 100 metres to have a look at the arch — no railing support and  one misstep your destiny is sealed. Slowly we inched our way to the arch and had a look at the natural wonder “The Delicate Arch.”

While returning back, I met a guard and asked him, “Sir, what is the reason you do not provide a railing on the ledge so that there are no accidents? It is quite scary and dangerous too.”

He replied, “We do not know how many thousands of years this arch has survived, sunshine, snow,  storms etc. If we drill the area near the ledge and due to its tremor if the delicate arch crumbles, how many generations of    people to be born will lose the privilege of seeing this wonder.”

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“If you go through the brochure, we have deliberately mentioned the climb as tough and  dangerous. If you are willing to take the risk, please go, otherwise the arch is visible from ground too. Have a look and proceed. A delicate eco-system needs to be preserved for posterity and we as citizens have to do it,” he said.

Chamundi Hill is not a granite hill but a hill with lots of loose soil and rocks. Some extra rain, the hill caves in and landslides occur. Imagine the amount of drilling required to put the steel columns for the ropeway? What happens if the hill itself collapses or multiple landslide occurs? Just because money is available in the “prashad” scheme, do we have to spend it on destroying a                                   fragile eco-system?

Another scheme of providing  railing for the hill steps. What purpose? Only the fit climb the steps and they do not require any support.  

Instead of concentrating on Chamundi Hill, why not talk of renovating other tourist attractions which is very urgent. I am talking about Brindavan Gardens, the prime attraction of this region.  This Garden is outdated, pathetic and crying for all the help. Why not spend some money for upgradation and renovation of this Garden?

Century-old Devaraja Market.

I do not even want to discuss Devaraja Market and Lansdowne buildings, our heritage structures. The Government in its wisdom has still not decided to reconstruct or renovate it using the existing structure. Even after so many years, Devaraja Market is still a prime international tourist attraction.

Though the University of Mysore has enough funds, it has not been able to maintain the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion and the Kukkarahalli Lake properly. Sheer apathy. 

When Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel was given back to the State Government, there was a tacit understanding that it would be privatised at the earliest so that it remained the “jewel in the crown” of Mysuru. Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) was entrusted with the job of running it and is continuing to do so.

Iconic Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel.

Jungle Lodges is an excellent organisation but it just does not have the manpower or expertise required to run a deluxe heritage property. This property requires at least Rs. 80 crore to Rs. 100 crore for a complete renovation including the step gardens. If this state of affairs continues, Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel will become another State Guest House, entertaining all the Ministers and officials on a trip to Mysuru.

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With a lot of fanfare a Film City was announced in Mysuru District. What has happened to it? Has the State Government appointed any high-level body to execute the work of Film City?

Ramoji Film City is a success story because it is a  private  enterprise. It is better that our Government enters into a partnership with a private giant like Universal Studio or Disney or some movie mogul for operating this venture.

I had mentioned several times in my articles on tourism that to develop tourism with minimum expenditure was to have a top-notch cricket stadium where international matches are hosted.  The benefit of TV coverage is enormous. Last I heard both the State Government and bcci have agreed. Now what is holding the actual signing of the deal so that the ground-work can start? 

Some months back Heli Tourism was announced with a lot of fanfare. What has happened to it? The helipad near Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel now owned by the Wadiyar family is not being used for any purpose. Why not hire the ground and start Heli tours?

The Prince was appointed as Brand Ambassador of Mysuru some years back by our Karnataka Tourism Department. After that they did not have any inkling of how to utilise his services. Why not shoot some beautiful tourism spots in and around Mysuru like Melukote, Somanathapura, Gopalaswamy Betta etc., using his services.

Rajendra Vilas Palace atop Chamundi Hill.

Rajendra Vilas, the beautiful Palace Hotel on Chamundi Hill, is crumbling. Why the royalty is not leasing it out to a heritage chain is a mystery.

 The list is endless. Brand Mysuru is just not Chamundi Hill. With the ten-lane National Highway coming up fast, the journey time from Bengaluru is going to be shortened and combined with the airport expansion, it is expected that many more industries may shift to Mysuru, adding to the extra population and its woes. What is required is top class infrastructure, roads, hotels, hospitals etc., to cater to the demand of the exploding population. To conclude, Leave Chamundi Hill Alone.

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25 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Leave Chamundi Hill alone”

  1. Mann Ki Baat! says:

    Hey Ballal
    Enough of your bragging about your links to US.
    Utah is a Marmon place, which perhaps not aware of, and Mormons belong to the Church of Latter Day sainst, have reservations about any fresh developments.
    You then see Mount Rushmore and the carvings of American presidents-it is not as if Americans do not want any developments. Their car culture is destroying their atmosphere, which ensures collateral damage.
    They do not have much historical edifices, being a nation of only 300 years of inhabited people in large numbers.
    Chamundi Hill preservation has been talked about at length here.,. You ran out of the subjects and hence this inane article.

  2. Captain Jack Sparrow says:

    This man encourages tourism. Tourism means lots of visitors, and hence tourists do not leave Chamundi Hill alone.
    Pick an appropriate subject , Ballal or shut up.

  3. Captain Jack Sparrow says:

    This man encourages tourism. Tourism means lots of visitors, and hence tourists do not leave Chamundi Hill alone.
    Pick an appropriate subject , Ballal or shut up.

  4. Tane Basavanna says:

    The SOM should stop this Ballal’s articles.
    He wants more tourism ,whch means more visitors and that means all of them visiting the Chamundi Hill using tourist buses, taxis and cars. More pressure on Chamundi Hill road.
    Saying Leave this Hill alone, but asking more tourists to come to Mysore, shows a demented brain.

  5. Shantala says:

    Mr Ballal .a proponent of more visitors to Mysuru to increase the Tourism income, is another person joining this band wagon of slogging the plan to construct a Rope way to the top of Chamundi Hill. But unlike the other authors, who focused on the Hill, Mr Ballal is wandering all over the place, first giving an example of an obscure archway In Utah reachable by climbing. Unlike Mysore, not many tourists go to this place, to see an arch, after arduous climbing.
    I can see why this Mr Ballal, must have failed badly in his administrative position in tourism industry. There are only 2 things that visitors/tourists want to see in Mysore- the palace and Chamundi Hill. Those who are not devotees, indeed, My Israeli friends who are Jews, went to the top of the Chamundu Hill after visiting the Palace,to see the panoramic view of Mysore. Every tourist without exception visits thr Chamiundi Jill top. Not many are interested in the Lalitha Mahal and Rajendra Vilas palaces. If they are Indian tourists , they wold have visted Jaipur, and seethe the palace there, grander than the above 2. If they are foreigners, not many visit India, btw, they would have seen grander palaces like the Versailles palace. St Peter Basilica in Rome and the Sistine Chapel etc..
    International cricket match? That is even dafter! The IPL fixtures are coming through the ear in India, for Indians. For foreigners, they dislike this sport when other fast moving sports are there to watch in their own countries!
    Is Mr Ballal having a bout of hallucination?
    One can see, the “me too ‘”effort that Mr Ballal is spending to write this article, to fill his column.
    It is rime for the SOM to find a better and particularly younger female columnist in this post international day for women? The SOM is short of female columnists . A few columnists who had their days needing replacing any way.

  6. P. Siluvainathan says:

    Let us preserve the prestigious Chamundi Hill. We don’t want the episodes of Nilgiri’s repeating in Chamundi Hills. Mysuru is strong enough to get revenue from other avenues.

  7. Veejay says:

    Whether we heed to Ballal’s advise or not, Mysore is doomed with the upcoming 10 lane highway which will help millions of badly behaved tourists, many of whom (mostly hailing from north of the Vindhyas) would eventually decide to plonk in Mysuru for good.
    such invasive settlers will forcefully change the cultural landscape of the place. Old Mysoreans will be left with only memories of good old Agraharas & Keris. One may notice how the city is witnessing unwanted growth. Unplanned, haphazard urban sprawl has to be arrested RIGHT NOW!! Else, Mysuru will rapidly descend into a cesspool in little over a decade from now

  8. UglyIndian says:

    Very well written articulation of your thoughts Mr. Ballal, couldn’t agree more. In the name of Tourism and Trade and Business and basically, minting money, we are blitzkreiging our ecology which has otherwise stood the tests of time since far before humans appeared on the face of this planet. And now we are literally r@ping Mother Nature (sincere apologies for the french) for the sake of our vanity. Just happened to visit atop our all time favourite Chamundi Betta after almost a decade, and was taken aback by a rude shock the way they’ve built up a gaudy looking parking lot right in front of the main Temple gate. A little farther away where the tourist buses are often parked was filled with litter and dumped away bottles of liquor. I swear in the name of Mother Chamundeshwari Herself, this is not the Chamundi Betta I remember. I remember how back as a kid I often used to come at the break of dawn on the weekends, climb all the steps up, get my hands, face and feet washed, visit the temple premises, and take the steps back. That’s a memory I’ll cherish like most true blue Mysureans for the rest of my life! But the horror that is being etched into our memory with all the gaudy infrastructure and the news of the upcoming ropeway and all… Development is good, but these can make you start consulting a therapist! Haven’t we lost enough? Hasn’t the old world charm and the serenity that was Namma Mysuru been snatched away from us enough? How long will our failing education system (the indictment of which is visible from the comment section here like anywhere else around) continue to create rampage on everything that is near and dear to us? Where does this all end? What next, shoddy looking run of the mill apartment complexes and malls right atop the hill clearing the remnant forest cover?

  9. Mann Ki Baat, Bisi Bele Baat! says:

    Not surprised that many have not read, it appears what Ballal was writing ugly articles all these years.
    He was in tourism industry, and he wants more tourists to Mysore, but he does not want them to visit Chamundi Hill!!
    He does not want Rope way Well, given that all tourists visit Chamundi Hill WITHOUT EXCEPTION, they will use the Hill road in greater numbers in large tourist buses, and this will destroy the Hill’s delicate geographical structure even if the Rope Way is not built.
    He is at best a daft person, wanting readers to forget what what he preached all these years or at worst downright dishonest and hypocrite joining the “save Chamundi Hill’crowd” now.

    Government is simply doing what Ballal preached all these years-more tourism and more tourists.

    Ballall here acts as a poacher turned the dame keeper!

  10. Jhunjhunwalla says:

    We are business family in Mumbai, and we have been visiting Mysore for almost 6 decades, supplying to Mysore businesses, since then.
    I have enjoyed Mysore of 1960, he forests around it providing a joyful picnic spots. I have seen Mysore in all its glory as a very quiet city, walkable to reach all the places, and almost devoid of pollution.
    During the last 5 decades, I mention this period, because, I could see in 1970s, the massive influx of outsiders coming and settling in Mysore, and 2 decades later the government almost donated the rich fertile land nearby for Infosys for their IT techies training institute, preparing them to do cheap IT outsourced coding work, contracted to it by big IT companies in the USA, making the Infosys founders filthy rich billionaires, and at the same time sucking thousands of people from outside the state. gradually and surely many businesses arrived,, most of them the spill overs from Bangalore, like the Infosys; the City ‘s original perimeters were given way to large housing developments, thus almost quadrupling the population as of 2021.
    Even if the rope way is not built, and even if tourists in large numbers do not arrive, the Hassan-Kodagu-Kerala Highway proposed, together with the 10-line Mysore-Bangalore highway, and the fast trains plan to Chennai, all combine to suck in further very large numbers of Keralites and Tamils, whose states have reached their limit of expansion and they are preparing to settle in the expanded Mysore city-already a proposal is there to create Greater Mysore which will encompass towns and villages nearby.
    The first victim will be the Chamundi Hill. Devotees or not, as a poster above said, Chamundi Hill top is a unique place to have a panoramic view of the city below, with the glittering Palace to identify from up above; Chamundi Hill will never be left alone until it crumbles, within say 2 decades.

  11. Godfather says:

    What is wrong in constructing ropeway at chamudi hills?Many pilgrimage places in the north have ropeways to reach temples… Haridwar,Kashi,even amarnath has ropeway to reach temple…Looks the this protests are from the parking contractors who fear to loss business if ropeway comes up…

  12. Sreenivasa Murthy G says:

    People opposing Ropeway must consider how tho7sands of cars, 2 wheelers, 3 wheelers will flood the road leading to cuamundi hills. Traffic is growing every day. Local politicians, VVIPs are the cause for delays. Except foot path route road traffic must be totally banned to save the hills. Ropeway will be fast, inexpensive, safe and environmentally friendly option.

  13. Bhamy V Shenoy says:

    It is interesting that this platform is giving an opportunity to know how and why different opinions on ropeway are expressed. Ropeway project is not a new one which is proposed only recently. Way back in 1994, Karnataka government had given a contract to construct a ropeway and it was dropped. This was because of the protests by the environmentalists. To be expected some call these environmentalists as “armchair” environmentalists or even worse, “Eco-terrorists”. This shows how in a democracy one should welcome such diverse opinion. Even after the dropping of the project, on a regular basis ropeway project is proposed and each time is dropped. It is unlikely to be accepted this time either.

    What is important is to learn what is actually taking place on the Hill. Any objective person will feel sad the way we are destroying the bio-diversity and putting unsustainable load on the nature there. There is already a well built city with no proper system to handle sewage, and garbage. Devikere is polluted. Highrise flats are proposed. It is as if any one can construct any thing one likes.

    It is good to know that professionals like Ballal instead of keeping quiet like most other do has taken time and efforts to give good suggestion. “LEAVE HILL TO ITSELF”

  14. swamy says:

    I think there will be development of Chamundi Hills in the likes of Beverly Hills, Malabar Hills, Banjara Hills.. 1 acre to 10 acre plot..

  15. Sadhana says:

    Article is relevant, need of the day to preserve our forests, hills, Heritage, culture of Namma Mysuru

  16. Questo says:

    It is amusing to read, the relatively new comers to Mysore: Ganapathy, Barmy Shenoy and Ballal, who accompanied the massive waves of non-Mysoreans arriving in late 1970s, who were instrumental in creating a dozen new housing developments by clearing the forests around Mysore, thereby destroying the very nature of this serene city, now are the arm -chair ecowarrior who wants to save Chamundi Hill.
    Mysore was not saved , when these foreigners arrived to settle in massive numbers, and Chamundi Hill is not going to be saved, as a result, when this massive population of the city wants to visit ‘their Hill’ . It is not only the visitors/tourists who are destroying this Hill, it is this huge Mysore population too, through visits to the Hill on every festival day in the Hindu calendar. This was elegantly pointed out by a couple of posters.
    Hence, do not scape goat the tourists alone, conveniently hiding the fact that the ever increasing population of Mysore are the real culprits. These are relatively well to do settlers, with cars, they contribute to the congestion of Mysore roads, and they are the reason for the creation of Mysore-Bangalore 10-lane highway. They like Ganapathy, Barmy Shenoy and Ballal, before them, are attracting more and more settlers from outside the state. Before them, the only Ganapathy, we knew was an idol, the only Ballal we knew was a roguish owner of a hotel who dished out dreadful food, and the only Shenoy we knew was the owner of Mysore Ganesha Beedis -a company manufacturing beedis.
    Hence,1994 is not 2022, Mysore’s population since then has at least doubled. The so called Ropeway plan in 1994 was shelved not because, an outfit of retirees ,the Grahachara crowd howled, but because there was a change of CMs, from Veerappa Moily to Deve Gowda,, and Deve Gowda, being Bangalore -cenric, was focused on Bangalore issues and his future as an MP.
    Looking at the frequent earth slides which each time chips away a good part of the Hill, as the geological structure of the Hill shifts with the massive stress caused by ever increasing vehicular traffic on its road, assisted by heavy rains, these being regular incidents these days, no government can simply sit and pontificate chanting: ‘Leave Chamundi Hill alone’. Hence, the Rope Way project, which will go ahead. There is no other way to minimise the Hill road traffic, which is increasing an exponential rate. Only a dimwit would cite the example of an obscure stone archway in a Mormon countryside, as an example of preservation.
    I agree fully with the poster above, who has said that worse is yet to come, with the declaration of Greater Mysore, when the population is Mysore is going to doubled again in a few years as the new highway link to Kerala comes into operation, together with the high speed rail link to Chennai, The 10-lane expressway adding more misery.

  17. Mann Ki Baat! says:

    Since when some one who was a poor tourism administrator is called a professional?
    The 2 SOM contributors, who receive a fee for their poor quality articles, each calling the other great!
    The Roe Way project in 1994 was not a serious plan. Deve Gowda, the new CM was not interested. There was no frequent earth slides then. The population of Mysore then was about 60% what it is now. The Hill Road and Mysore roads were not then subjected to the pounding of large number s of 2,3 and 4 wheeler vehicles as now.
    I am told at every auspicious day in the Kannada calendar, one could see a very large number of Mysore-resident devotees outnumbering the tourists.
    I hope the CM will ignore the non-entities like Shenoy and Ballal ( they are simply verbal eco warriors, posting here in the SOM,-earning their Rupees, which the government does not take seriously!) and goes ahead with the Rope Way construction, entrusting the structure to a well reputed preferably to a company outside India, which has carried out large construction works.

  18. Kawakawaffoxgowda says:

    You are not that articulate either, while you blame the standard of education in Mysore! But, you sound really very ugly, blaming others! That says more about the quality of education you received.

  19. Gusto says:

    Indians are multiplying like rabbits. India used to add one Australian population every year and then it became every 6 months. Mysore city and the district for long used to be a relatively sparsely populated area, because of its relative isolation-a metre gauge rail link to Bangalore and a single road connecting the Bangalore. The cheap IT techie training institute by Infosys, the IT sweat shop outfit, led the way for industrialisation. The city is now choking with people and vehicles and so is this Hill.
    Indians have the innate propensity to destroy nature ,as they are multiplying in massive numbers.
    The other day, a Maori leader ( Maoris are native Australians, the aboriginals, who like their counterparts, the native Indians in the US worship nature) in a village near the Northern tip of New Zealand, near a town with a college, was complaining about a massive influx of Indians descending with their families, hunting for housing. The nearby engineering factory recruited only a few of them, but they too were surprised to see these many Indians arriving, some of them with tourist visas and others on student visas too. The Maoris complained about the litters, loud music etc.. The police and the local government had to step in. The New Zealand government is now tightening visas for Indians.
    I do not hold much hope for this Hill surviving a decade.

  20. Mann Ki Baat! Bisi Bele Baat! says:

    Namma Mysuru says a poster. The Malayalees who are arriving in large numbers expecting the new links to their state going ahead fast are also saying ;Namma Mysuru; in Malayalam, and the Tamils, saying that too in Tamil, expecting the high speed train project to Chennai completing soon!
    Banni Mantap used ato be distant patch remembered only during the Jamboo Savari day in Dasara 50 years ago. Now, it is a vast industrial complex, with the SOM having its office there among others, and large housing development nearby which is expanding .fast. The same story in other directions too.
    From one Ugadi to next, the Kannada Panchanga, lists so many auspicious days, with the Temple drawing in thousands of worshippers.
    I do not bet against this iconic Hill crumbling within a few years. Blame that to Fast increasing population of Mysuru, and not to the small numbers of tourists visiting the Hill.
    India is priducing too mmny Indians each year, tens of millions of them. That is the problem.

  21. Anu says:

    Has anybody ever given a thought about natural development around Mysore? Mysore is being developed to be destroyed just as Bangalore is finished. khallas… Now it’s Mysore’s turn. Ballal writes to fill the column. Period. Has no bearing on anything. Soon we will all feel like selling and leaving Mysore. Our beautiful Mysore will remain in our memories.
    So sad.

  22. Jalandhara says:

    Well said. Ballal and Shenoy are retirees who arrived to the city relatively recently, and as posters above said , they arrived in a massive wave of new comers who built their houses forcing the clearing of the forest which adorned the periphery of the Old Mysore, that I loved while growing up in 1950s, and studying later.
    The Mysore lost its lustre after 1960. After 1960, it was the city which absorbed large numbers of people and businesses who deserted Bangalore, as that city had no room for expansion.
    I left the country in 1970, having seen my beloved city destroyed through mindless development and immigration. But I still preserve in my memory, the beautiful city of 1960,, blessed with nature, and the city one could walk from end to end, and one need not have to avoid marauding petrol vehicles, and the footpaths were there for the pedestrians. Every one spoke Kannada. One could also walk through the road adjoining the Lansdowne building, with Students buying second hand books from Murthy book house, inimitable Mr Murthy giving them generous discounts and borrowing plan too. I was grateful to Mr Murthy, a good friend ( for all students), who supplied me engineering books for my degree course, with his generous borrowing plan.
    As for Chamundi Hill, we used to use steps and walk up to the Temple, meeting the big Nandi, half the way. Used to enjoy the panoramic view of the city below.
    The Chamundi Hill road then was not much used, people preferring to climb the steps as a mark of respect to the Goddess. Only JC Wadiyar and his entourage used the cars.
    Very sad to see the destruction of Mysore, and the Hill.
    In 1960, on the day of Makara Sankranti, I took our beautiful 18 months old, very active, chocolate coloured heifer calf, when invited to take part the kicchu hoyisuvudu- jumping over the fire lined up inside the Mysore Palace. In those days, the supervision for this event was very tight, the numbers of participants were limited through invitation only, and only healthy willing cows of young age were allowed to participate in that event , after inspection. That was an important part of the Palace activity continued over Many generations.
    Those of us the Mysoreans who left the country at that time still lock in our memory, the Mysore of 1960.
    Bangalore of 1960, was also a very good city to visit, full of parks, and again, one could walk to visit places or at worst take a short bus ride/cycle ride.

  23. R. Parthasarthy says:

    There is another temple of Goddess Shakti Sri. Samayapuram temple which is being constructed for over the last six years on almost the banks of Rivers cauvery and Lokapavani on either side viz: the southern and eastern side respectively which is likely to be modern days magnanimous endeavour by the sincere efforts of a fairly young Sri. Swamy Sureshwara Acharya with the great assistance of his humble trustees and a lot of heartfelt devotees sacrificing their immense valuable time and energy just besides the forthcoming express Highway to Mysore at the interjunction of Srirangapatna at Babusa palya where also an ancient Lord Shiva temple exists over centuries. Hoping it serves alot to the people in the future generations to go ahead.

  24. Segu says:

    There is a plan to construct to construct mall by ranganatha swamy age old temple

    Even these should be stopped sir

  25. Satarawalla says:

    ” a lot of heartfelt devotees sacrificing their immense valuable time and energy just besides the forthcoming express Highway to Mysore at the interjunction of Srirangapatna at Babusa palya where also an ancient Lord Shiva temple exists over centuries. Hoping it serves alot to the people in the future generations to go ahead”
    What is the meaning of the above? What did you want to say?
    No point in constructing more temples, when the devotees are dishonest and themselves corrupt to the core! They simply come and pray hoping their sins will go away!
    Thousands of temples in India, all ancient and reputed and hundred of saints and acharyas took birth and preached. But yet the worshippers , not only the politicians and those in power, commit all kinds of crimes,. Just look at the young married women simply murdered because, the dowry money she brought is not just enough.
    Shameful Indian society.
    @Segu why don’t you lead protests to stop the mall ‘s construction?


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