Mysore/Mysuru: Even as concerned citizens of our city and the NGO, Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) are engaged in a campaign to save the natural beauty of the Chamundi Hill from various construction activities, including the Central Government’s proposed PRASHAD Scheme, as a last resort, the renowned writer and novelist Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa has written a detailed letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself calling upon him to stop this vandalism at the temple mountain.
The full text of the letter is produced here:
Respected PM Modi ji,
I am writing this letter requesting you to ask your Tourism Ministry to apply the true spirit of an imaginatively and beautifully conceived concept of PRASHAD to promote spiritual tourism for a project in Chamundi Hill, Mysuru.
What I have heard about the project proposal submitted by the Karnataka State Government has pained me. It is concentrating more on the modern concept of architect using concrete and environmentally unsustainable materials. What we need is to demolish the already existing concrete jungle and restore the natural beauty of the hill with minimum interference from contractors. The State Government’s proposal adds some more to the concrete jungle in the name of glamorising it.
Below I have outlined my suggestions for your consideration.
Chamundi Hill has many granite rocks. Especially during summer months, they emit heat. We need to plant hill-friendly trees which will cover those rocks and stop being heated. This will result in some cooling for the city.
Around the temple, on the hilltop, we should have massive planting of trees instead of the artificial roof constructed today. For most part today there are hardly any trees and the proposal also does not talk of any greening.
With more than 4,000 residents on top of the hill which was hardly in hundreds a few years back, it has reached unsustainable limit. We should limit houses only to priests and working staff of the temple. All other houses should be relocated in the city and compensated as we have done with tribals in some reserve forests.
All private vehicles including VIPs (as a model to others) should be banned and only electric operated buses should be allowed.
To the extent possible, all concrete jungle already created should be demolished with minimum harm to the environment. I am pained to write that even though the authorities assured the environmentalists that no dynamite will be used for multi-level parking, such assurances were ignored. People responsible were never held accountable. We do not know what damage it has created not only to the old temple subsoil but also to wild animals and birds.
Finally, I want to suggest a novel idea which has not been attempted any where in India or the world. Instead of Chamundi Hill copying Hampi or Tirupathi, it should develop its own development model for others to adapt.
Only puja materials should be sold by the Temple Authorities and not by private vendors. The atmosphere on the hilltop should be conducive to people who want to meditate or breath silence.
What I am suggesting is in total compliance of what you had proposed during Paris Summit in 2015 to fight climate change. It is to adapt India’s civilisation message of “Simple living, high thinking.” One other unintended benefit is that we do not need to spend huge funds to implement what I am proposing.
The former Government of Karnataka has constructed with cement and bricks multi-level parking lot for 600 cars and 100 commercial shops. With the result, they have converted the hilltop to commercial centre destroying the Yaatra Centre which it was earlier. The serenity and peace are totally destroyed.
Since centuries, there were steps to climb the hill. The steps should be shadowed by bowers and not metallic structures.
Kannada Novelist, Fellow of Sahithya Academy, Author of PARVA which is translated into Chinese and Russian by Sahithya Academy; National Professor for 5 years; Saraswathi Samman Awardee.
Note: In the 1980s, there was some fund with the Temple Authorities derived from the offerings of the devotees amounting to a few crores of rupees. It was then decided by the authorities, Mysuru Deputy Commissioner being the one, to construct a Guest House and a ‘Dasoha’ building (Free Food House). So it was done. At that time, Star of Mysore had strongly protested against this vandalism on the ground that the locations of the buildings were disfiguring the environment of the temple.
Many visitors were shocked. Earlier, as one entered the precinct of the giant statue of the demon King Mahishasura, one could see behind it a skyline sprawling into infinity metamorphosing itself into various shades of colours according to the time of the day — morning-noon-evening. It was a sight for the Gods to see.
Sadly, such a panoramic skyline was completely covered by the ugly structure of the so-called Guest House where at no time a viable number of guests ever stayed. Reports had appeared about the place being misused by the anti-social elements.
Therefore, I quite agree with Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa when he says many of these old and new concrete structures should be demolished without causing damage to the environment and the hill itself.—K.B. Ganapathy, Sr. Journalist.
I am a very frequent visitor to Chamundi temple. Politicians have been hob knobbing with the pristine peaceful environment of Chamundi Hills and its surroundings with modern ugly unplanned concrete buildings and shopping complexes all ill planned to woo tourists. I am very much pained that while before reaching the hill, the path leading to the temple, an ugly obscure ill planned parking lot has been planned in an ill manner hurriedly. This parking lot hides the view of the Temple on arrival. What a senseless plan. Politicians like the ill-bred Sara, who thinks he is a crusader for development of Chamundi Hills has a pie in every hand and deals. These people have to be rusticated and not be invited nor to participate in the temples development. Moreover, Chamundi hills should not be made as a Tourist Spot. Do not allow any felicitation Ceremonies nor cultural programs organized to please the Politicians. The Temple’s shoe stand contract should be handled by the temple authorities and should be made free.
The concrete jungle created on top of Chamundi hills is responsible for soil weakness in the road leading to the hill top. Politicians and MCC are responsible for the collapse of road. Which agency carried out soil testing to design road to the hill? If soil is weak, then they should have designed a stone embankment all along the road. In absense of embankment road will collapse during every monsoon. While railways plan proper embankment in ghat section before tracks are laid, why a simple Chamundi hills cannot have a proper road? In what way does Dr S L Bhyrappa wants PM intervation? Can PM design a road ? This is nothing but cheap publicity stunt.
100% agree on everything, except “We should limit houses only to priests and working staff of the temple. All other houses should be relocated in the city and compensated as we have done with tribals in some reserve forests.”
Only the recent ‘residents’ should be kicked out. There are families who have been living there for generations (including some priests). They are perhaps the only ones who have not interfered with the greenery on Chamundi hills. Also, let’s not make a saint out of every priest. Even many priests appear to care only about the insides of the temple, their hygiene consciousness or care for the things do not extend outside of temple premises.
Incentives and Disincentives need be arranged so that physically fit people will prefer to climb the steps. Promoting Yoga, culture, Rest and Recuperation opportunities may generate needed commerce without disturbing the environment. Tourist guides, local leaders and temple management should device innovative opportunities for sustaining the tranquil environment. Reverence to steps uphill should be built into the rituals and glorified.
If one saw Chamundi Hill and Gopalaswamy Hill on Google Map you can easily notice the stark difference. While Gopalaswamy Hill is unspoilt, Chamundi Hill has been ravaged by unchecked construction, mass tourism and all its ill-effects. Designating Gopalaswamy Hills as forest area, banning private vehicles to the hilltop and checking of tourists bags have helped preserve it in pristine condition. On the other hand commercialisation of Chamundi temple, alterations to the original temple structure, poor maintenance, too much construction on the hill, preferential treatment to the rich & powerful and reckless tourists have spoiled the experience of visiting Chamundi Hill. During 2021 Ashada month public were not allowed to temple on Fridays due to Covid restrictions but politicians and other so called VIPs were allowed. Security guards take money from devotees and allow them up to the sanctum to have close view of the Goddess . I remember there was once a board put up at ticket counter which said Free Laddoo along with Rs. 100 ticket. Are only those people who can afford to pay Rs. 100 deserve to get free “prasad laddoo”? It’s is sickening to see all this happening at a religious place.
There is no dress code in chamundi hills like tirupati… So pls do something