Increase in footfall to Chamundi Hill, an issue of eco-concern

Increase in footfall to Chamundi Hill, an issue of eco-concern

The Chamundeshwari temple, atop the Chamundi Hill, in the city, is of late becoming a money-spinner for the state Muzarai department. It is the most visited place here, only after the Mysuru Palace. However, this gives rise to eco-concerns.

After the successful summer and Ashada seasons, the temple is gearing up for the Dasara season. In fact, the Chamundeshwari temple has become an all season temple, following in the footsteps of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.

The total income of the temple from April 1 to July 27, this year, has crossed Rs 11 crore (Rs 11,08,37,469), including the hundi collection of Rs 3,86,30,365. The total income during the corresponding period last year was Rs 7,86,47,755, including hundi collection of Rs 3,51,39,365. It was Rs 5,98,21,912 and Rs 1,62,92,707 respectively in 2015. There has been a steady growth in the income of the temple over the past three years. While there has been only a marginal increase in the hundi collection this year (Rs 3,86,30,365) over the collection of last year (Rs 3,51,39,248), there was actually a marginal decrease in other incomes, including from sales of entry tickets, in 2016 (Rs 4,35,08,507) compared with 2015 (Rs 4,35,29,205). This year, the increase in the income is mainly due to the introduction of Rs 300 tickets for darshan, along with the already existing Rs 50 tickets.

If the earnings of the temple, only during the month of Ashada, is taken into consideration, the growth is almost thrice, compared to 2016 and 2015. The income on five auspicious days — four Fridays and the Chamundeshwari vardanthi — in 2015 was Rs 29,67,550, in 2016, it was Rs 38,73,300 and Rs 1,03,83,030 in 2017. This increase, this year, is also attributed to the introduction of the Rs 300 worth tickets.

Category-wise temples
The Muzarai department has 1,289 temples and institutions in Mysuru district alone, including 357 institutions in Mysuru taluk. However, only four of them in the district come under ‘A’ category, while four are ‘B’ category; with the remaining in ‘C’ category. The temples that have an annual income of over Rs 25 lakh are classified as ‘A’ category and those having an annual income above Rs 5 lakh up to Rs 25 lakh are ‘B’ category. Temples having an annual income of less than Rs 5 lakh are ‘C’ category.

Besides the Chamundeshwari temple, Srikanteshwara temple in Nanjangud, Vydyanatheswara temple in Talakad, and Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry are classified as ‘A’ category. The Chamundeshwari temple is a part of the Mysore Palace Muzarai Institutions, along with 22 other temples and Sriman Maharaja Chatra (Diwan Poornayya Chatra).

Chamundeswari has been the tutelary deity of the Mysuru maharajas, the Wadiyar kings of the Yadu dynasty, since at least a couple of centuries and is thus, considered as the presiding deity of Mysuru.
Of late, it is being refered to as ‘Naada Devathe’ by the authorities in the state government.

Chamundi Hill, which lies on the outskirts of Mysuru city, acting as a border line on the south-eastern side, has an average elevation of 1,065 metre above sea level and is approximately 800 metre above the city. Except for the small village, inhabited by the descendants of the original inhabitants, the hill is a reserved forest, since 2001. It is an interesting spot of biodiversity with flora and fauna, especially butterflies and birds. It is a repository of medicinal herbs too. The hill has a periphery of around 14 km and surface area of about 17 square km. Geologically, the rocks are pink and gray granite. The igneous rocks are due to volcanic activity (0.8 billion years old), recent compared to the nearby peninsular Gneissic rocks of Sargur-Kabbal Durga (3 billion years old). It is a combination of red gravelly soil with rich silica content, and rocky surface.

Activists, including environmentalists and urban planners, have sounded an alarm over the commercialisation and ongoing ‘development’ atop the Chamundi Hill as damage to its ecology will have negative impacts on the city and its people. However, the increase in the number of devotees, visiting the shrine, over the years and the ‘concern’ of the authorities concerned to provide amenities and infrastructure to the visitors is turning the hill into a ‘hotspot‘.

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