Mysuru (Karnataka), May 5, 2017: Shravanabelagola, the Jain pilgrimage centre, is getting ready to host the 88th edition of mahamasthakabishekha, the head-anointing ceremony of Lord Gomateshwara, in February next year.
The 57-foot statue of the lord, installed in 981 AD, witnessed the first mahamastakabhisheka by Ganga ruler Chavundaraya. Ever since, the mega event is held once in 12 years.
While district minister A Manju had released the logo of the mahamasthakabhisheka, chief minister Siddarammaiah has launched various development programmes like laying of the foundation stone for the setting up of Prakrit University which is considered as the first such university in the country, construction of Yatri Niwas (for pilgrims) and works to upgrade the infrastructure in Hassan district. The works are being taken up at a cost of Rs 71.73 crore.
Meanwhile, the 166km railway line has connected Bengaluru and Hassan through Gommateshwara Express. It halts at Shravanabelagola and Channarayapatna, benefiting lakhs of pilgrims from Mumbai, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam and other places.
Yatri Nivas of international standards is equipped with hi-tech toilets and permanent drinking water facilities for pilgrims. Travellers’ bungalows in Belur, Halebeed, Gorur and Ramanathapura in the district are also being upgraded.
A 5MW solar power generation unit and MUSS station are being built. The steps leading to Vindhyagiri Hill in Belagola will be widened before December.
Mysuru: Ahead of the 88th edition of mahamastakabhisheka, not just Shravanabelagola town will be beautified. The entire district, including Chanarayapatna taluk, are in for beautification. The government will spend Rs 175 crore for the project, which is Rs 40 crore more than what was spent on the previsou edition of mahamasthakabhisheka.
Interacting with TOI, S Jithendra Kumar, working president of Mahamastakabhisheka-2018, said that the mega event will boost the economy of the district. Excerpts from an interview:
How are the preparations for the mega event going on, and when will the works get over?
The preparation for the event began a year ago, and is going on well. Development works have been taken up by the district administration, and they are expected to be completed by the end of 2017. For the previous mahamastakabhisheka, the state and the central governments had spent Rs 135 crore and Rs 95 crore, respectively. For the forthcoming mahamasthakabhisheka, the state government has sanctioned Rs 175 crore, while the central government is yet to sanction any money. The mahamastakabhisheka committee will advise and guide the government, which will be the facilitator in implementing related projects and programmes. The money sanctioned by the state government will be managed by the district administration.
What are the development works being taken up?
The works pertain to development of roads, beautification of towns, lighting, temporary accommodation of devotees, drinking water facilities at Shravanabelagola and some neighbouring villages, a platform to perform mahamasthakabhisheka, construction of four more VVIP guesthouses. The works are expected to be completed by the end of December. Apart from this, foundation has also been laid for the construction of International Prakrit University, which is a first-of-its-kind institution in the country. The university, being built at a cost of Rs 40 crore, will be inaugurated during mahamastakabhisheka.
How many pilgrims are expected to witness the event?
As the mega event is held once in 12 years, lakhs of people from across the country and abroad will come to witness the event. Around 20 lakh devotees attended the last mahamasthakabhisheka.
With a direct train from Bengaluru to Hassan via Shravanabelagola running now, we expect 30-35 lakh people this time. Awareness through social media will also help increase the footfalls.
Any VVIP visitors?
Many VVIPs are expected, and they include President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala, and chief minister Siddaramaiah. – News Courtesy: Times of India