‘Many people from the north have made bookings already’

Shravanabelgola (Hassan District, Karnataka), 21st October 2017: Even as the construction of the scaffolding against the Gomateshwara statue atop Vindhyagiri in Shravanabelagola is gaining momentum, devotees working out their trips to the place for the occasion of Mahamastakabhisheka are booking houses in the village well in advance.

According to locals, many people from Rajasthan, Gujarat and other northern States have booked houses in Shravanabelagola during the mega event, which is scheduled for February next year.

The Public Works Department has taken up construction of the scaffolding at a cost of Rs. 11.25 crore. The structure is necessary for the anointment of the 57-foot statue. More than 150 people are working on this and are expected to complete it by the end of December.

Meanwhile, many villagers are offering their houses on rent to visitors. Shravanabelagola, a major pilgrimage centre for Jains, attracts thousands of people from across the country during Mahamastakabhisheka. The organisers are expecting more than 50 lakh people to participate in the event, which will be spread over a month roughly, next year.

“A few houses have been booked for Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh a month. A family of five or six can stay in these houses that are located close to Vindhyagiri,” said Nagendra, a villager. People with good devotee contacts book houses in advance and rent them out to visitors during the month. During that time, the house owners move to smaller houses or farmhouses. Only those with additional housing facility offer their places for rent.

“This is one of the ways the locals benefit from the event. It is totally a private affair with no involvement of either the Jain Mutt or the government,” said a resident. A few people in Hosahalli, about 2 km from Shravanabelagola, have also rented out their houses.

The State government will also be providing temporary townships for the devotees. As much as 500 acres of land has been acquired temporarily from farmers to put up temporary structures. The farmers have been provided with relief for two crops this year. The government has allocated Rs. 75 crore for the townships. Those staying in the temporary townships will have to pay a fee, which will be fixed later. The construction of housing structures is expected to begin on Monday. – News Courtesy: The Hindu