Infosys Foundation may adopt Melkote

Infosys Foundation may adopt Melkote

The Tourism department is planning to hand over the development and maintenance of the Melkote temple and its surroundings to a private entity. The department seems to have finally recognised the temple town’s history and acknowledged its abysmally poor upkeep. 

Tourism Minister Sa Ra Mahesh told DH that the department wanted the Infosys Foundation to “adopt” the temple town, so that the holy centre can become a major tourist attraction. He said that the department would soon ink a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Foundation.

“Sudha Murthy of Infosys Foundation has evinced interest in the maintenance of the town. The department actually wants to hand over the complete development and upkeep of the town to the Foundation. We want it to develop basic infrastructure like roads, toilets, accommodation and parking and maintain the same. Our only condition is that there should not be any entry fee. The department is also open for a similar arrangement in Belur, Halebidu and Aihole,” he said.

When contacted, Sudha said her Foundation was primarily interested in the clean-up and restoration of the dodda kalyani (near Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple in Melkote) and akka tangi kalyani (near Yoganarasimha Swami temple). Presently, they are maintained by Muzrai and archaeology departments.

“We have had no official discussion about adopting Melkote. It’s, however, a fact that I spoke to the minister about the pathetic condition of the kalyanis. I was distressed when I saw the terrible shape the ponds are in, when I visited the temple during Dasara. People come to Melkote because there are archaeologically significant temples known for exceptional architecture. If we don’t maintain it, it will stop being an attraction,” she said.

Murthy said that her Foundation had already developed two such temple ponds - Vasantha Vallabharaya temple in Bengaluru and Lakshmeshwara temple near Hubballi.

“We spent Rs 9 crore on restoring the Vasantha Vallabharaya kalyani. People were defecating all around the pond. Dead bodies were being thrown into it. Today, the kalyani looks out of the world. The Foundation spent Rs 5 crore to restore the Lakshmeshwara temple kalyani. We now hold music and dance festivals there,” she said.

Murthy said that the pond and its surroundings were replete with beer bottles and plastic. “The pond should be fenced and kept under lock and key during night,” the writer said.

Modalities to be worked out

“We will not charge any entrance fee. But we have certain conditions and the locals and the temple authorities should cooperate with us. We need to figure out what is acceptable to both of us. Only after that we will sign the MoU. We will be interested in taking up the maintenance for three years,” she said.