Guidelines issued to scale down Bandipur fair celebrations

As devotees on the fringes of Bandipur National Park in Gundlupet taluk in Chamarajanagar district prepare to celebrate annual Beladakuppe Mahadeshwara Swamy Jatre (fair) at Hediyala wildlife range from November 17 to 19 in a grand manner, the Forest department has directed Beladakuppe Mahadeshwara Temple Committee to scale down the events.

The department has issued a set of guidelines, instructing the committee to make it a low-key affair like the previous year.

According to H C Kantharaju, Conservator of Forest and Director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, the committee was planning to organise the cultural programmes in a grand manner, by roping in a Veeragase troupe from Chikkamagaluru on the opening day.

On the eve of fair ( November 16), it had been planned to take out a procession of the silver mask of the deity, with illumination, from the 'kalyani' (pond) inside the forest. On November 18, entertainment programmes were planned.

The department has categorically instructed the committee to drop the afore mentioned programmes under Wildlife Conservation Act 1972. Instead, the committee has been permitted to organise bhajans, harikatha and other devotional programmes like the previous year.

Guidelines
That apart, a set of guidelines have been issued for the devotees. The road inside the forest will be open for them only between 8 am and 7 pm during the fair, while rituals and programmes can be conducted only from 6 am to 10 pm. To reach the temple area, only the road through Alalahalli near Chennagundi will be opened and those halting inside the forest are prohibited from using firewood in the forest.

The annual fair attracts around 40,000 devotees from the surrounding areas during the day and around 3,000 people halt near the temple during night.
There has been a restricted entry as Bandipur is the biggest habitat of elephants, and tigers among other carnivores in Asia.

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