Time to unburden Chamundi Hill?
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Time to unburden Chamundi Hill?

October 26, 2019

On Tuesday, there was a landslide on Chamundi Hill. About 50 ft. of road connecting Nandi Statue area to the View Point on Chamundi Hill main road broke off from the Hillside and slid to a depth of 22 feet. Works to rebuild the road are going on at a brisk pace but it has prompted the question: Has the time come to seriously consider protecting Chamundi Hill from vehicular traffic?

In recent times, when people look towards Chamundi Hill they see more than just God’s abode wrapped in Nature’s green. Now, one will also see concrete structures and garbage. The Hill has succumbed to structures built to pamper irresponsible tourists. And politicians are constantly trying to build structures on the Hill in the name of tourism.

First, it was former Mysuru District in-Charge Minister late D.T. Jayakumar who suddenly revived the idea of a ropeway across the Hill. Of course, he did not care that a two-kilometre long and 10-metre wide strip of forestland would have to be destroyed to do that.

Then came the grand plan to install ‘Sky Wheel,’ a super-sized giant wheel on the Hill. They even gave it a name — The ‘Mysore Eye.’

Then they moved the Toll Booth from the temple entry point to the View Point to make more money by collecting toll from even local Mysureans who simply wanted to drive up the Hill.

Then came B.S. Yediyurappa with a Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and said that Chamundi Hill would be developed on the lines of Tirupati-Tirumala Temple with Guest House and all that commercial filth that overpowers divinity and stinks up serenity.

Then came former Minister S. A. Ramdas, who announced that the 1.5 km stretch from View Point to the Statue of Mahishasura would be made into a four-lane road !

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Then came a plan to install a canopy over the steps — all the way from the foothill to the top. They did not fear that 1,008 steps which are 350-years-old would turn into 1,008 business spots with each step hosting puja paraphernalia sellers, coconut vendors and eateries, all leaving a trail of garbage.

Every politician wants to turn Chamundi Hill into a thriving tourist destination, without fearing the filth and pollution it brings with it, as most Indian tourists are prone to flinging garbage at will. Also they don’t seem to understand that like Kukkarahalli Lake, Chamundi Hill is also a green oasis and lung space for the city. 

That brings us to the now renewed call for a ropeway by our District in-Charge Minister V. Somanna. Yes, as he himself claimed a ropeway is expensive and like many environmentalists say, it will eat into the flora and fauna of the Hill, but something has to be done to stop vehicles from going up the hill spewing smoke, noise and stopping for picnics that leave garbage behind.

Of course, any construction on the Hill is a terrible idea, but should we allow vehicles to drive up the winding roads spewing smoke and chips packets or force people to leave their garbage and vehicles at the foothill and take a public transport? After all these years has the time come to find another means of transport to go up the Hill? And is cable car or ropeway the best?

I have visited two cities, Salzburg in Germany and Budapest, Hungary; both cities have small Hills like our own Chamundi Hill, albeit, instead of a temple they both have castles atop. Both are international tourist destinations. And in both places tourists are forced to take the funicular, a kind of a cable car which moves on rail tracks but uses electricity and counter-weight system.

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In both cities if one wants to go up the Hill they have to either take this funicular or walk up the steps or the road. In fact, one of the funiculars has two stops, one in the middle of the Hill and then at the top. Similarly, may be we too could have a stop at Nandi and then at the Hill top.

If this is indeed a viable way to enjoy the Hill without the vehicular traffic and pollution, then may be an area close to the foothill can be earmarked. Here people can park their vehicles and just walk to the funicular station. While doing this may be we can also allow only public electric buses up the Hill and ban all private vehicles.

Now, what about the people who live on the Hill? The Government can issue special permits for their vehicles. But what if they start using it to ferry tourists up and down the Hill for a fee? Well, it is up to the Government to fix such loopholes.

But most importantly, considering the devastation caused by landslides in Kodagu, are the people living atop Chamundi Hill safe anymore? After all, the top of Chamundi Hill too has seen sprouting of concrete structures like Kodagu.

For now, there needs to be a study of traffic flow up the Hill and a viability study done to see if there are enough tourists who visit Chamundi Hill to pay for an expensive funicular and its maintenance.

More importantly, will such an investment help make Chamundi Hill a green blissful Hill for the birds to breed and produce fresh air for us to breathe?

Just installing cable cars or funiculars while allowing private vehicles up the Hill is not just wasteful expenditure, but also counter-productive as it only doubles the damage to the Hill. It should be either this or that. Not both.

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7 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Time to unburden Chamundi Hill?”

  1. Govind Pai says:

    Haha, yes “Mysore eye” will be an appropriate name for such an eyesore! Tragic that we have no sense of the sacred, whether in Chamundi, Uttarakhand, the Western Ghats or elsewhere. We convert our mountains into concrete jungles and garbage heaps and our rivers into sewers. What unworthy inheritors we are of our Upanishadic sages (Of whom Schopenhauer wrote “It is the most satisfying and elevating reading which is possible in the world; it has been the solace of my life and will be the solace of my death”) who dwelt in these pristine places 2000 years ago! (By the way, I presume that the funicular you refer to is the one in Salzburg, Austria and not Salzburg, Germany? Home of Mozart, The Salzburg music festival and the Sound of Music!)

  2. swamy says:

    Build another Chamundi temple in the city for the devotees who want quick darshan. Also slap hefty fees for whoever wants to go up the hill.

  3. Jalandhara says:

    Building another Chamundi Temple in the city? Nonsensical prattle. as this person does not know the history why this temple was constructed on the Chamundi Hill! Slapping hefty fe to who?The rich will pay any money to have darshan and the poor will be denied the worship. The problem lies in allowing so many people and vehicles per day atop the Hill. Controlling these numbers per day might help, but it is too late for this now. This traffic on the Hill mirrors the country’s population explosion. This third world countryt arguably with the largest population is sinking under their weight.

  4. Strangeworld says:

    Indians and Mysoreans think that cars are status symbols and they will not give up this idiotic thinking. The vehicular traffic on the road to the temple ,which is massive for the Hill of this type is causing damage to the rock formation and the Hill is literally disintegrating as evidenced by the landslide. Talking about Funicular citing examples of Salzburg and Budapest misses the the most important context of density of population and the use of vehicles by this population. I have visited Salzburg many times and have seen the funicular in operation in both Salzburg and Budapest.The number of people who use this is very tiny in comparison with those numbers of users who would use the funicular if that was constructed for this Hill.
    It is time that Indians recognised that their country is populated beyond any limit of space, and this is filtered down to this region and the numbers who visit the Hill. The population of the whole of Europe,is about 750 million as compared to about 1.35 teaming billions of souls that inhabit in this third world country. The country is choked by this number. Even if the private vehicles are banned, the sheer mass of people that use the steps or funicular mode still would disturb whatever the eco balance that this Hill is left with, and future landslides would be inevitable. Controlling the numbers that visit the Hill per day including the VVIPs is the only way to ensure the slow down of the Hill rock disturbance. This will never happen in Mysuru and India.

  5. Strangeworld says:

    Just to add to the above. When ,the esteemed BJP cheddi Yedi converts this sacred Hill into a tourist attraction with several hotels , the BJP PM,perhaps Modi then ( as he is going to be the PM for decades, and Rahul is truly slayed by him then. By the way, i have contempt for Congress too ) will be invited inaugurate this august occasion,and the Mysuru peta darned Modi will be garlanded with massive garland dwarfing the Goddess herself! Then there will photo opportunities for Modi,when he invited foreign leaders to this Hill later!! We have then the Godmen,the matadhipatis in Karnataka who would like to hold their jayanthis,annadhanas and their celebrations using these tourist facilities. The destruction of the Hill would then be complete!

  6. What a culture! says:

    The resident genius @swamy has a suggestion: 1. Create a mirror Chamundeshwari Temple in the city so that the blessings of the deity in the Hill can be downloaded for the poor. They should be happy 2. Impose hefty fee to see the Hill Deity for darshan. He did not suggest what this fee should be. Say Rupees 10,000. That should teach these poor who climb the steps, not to mess with Chamundeshwari in Hill which should be for the rich. Just wait a minute! Is Rupees 10,000 hefty enough? I say this because, in my last visit to India 20 years ago, my relative in Mysuru took a wad of Rupees 100 notes, just to buy a few vegetables and flower for worship, and was dishing out these notes without getting any change in coins. In my days in early 1960s, I took only a single Rupee 10 note to buy all the vegetables and flower required and brought change in coins to home! May be Rupees 10,000 may nt be a hefty fee , should be more. @swamy though his sheer genius, creates another class of bribe called: ” Chamundi visiting fee’ for corrupt officials to deand frpm hapless people who need the paper s moved!!

  7. dr.shanthakumar says:

    nonsensical of another chamundi hill .

    this person needs to be sent to mental hospital.

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