KURNOOL: The fight for control over Ahobilam temple in Kurnool district continues as tourism minister Bhuma Akhila Priya is determined to leave her stamp on this ancient shrine.
Temple authorities plead that Ahobilam is a shrine not a resort and the purity of the place must be maintained.
The Union government has sanctioned `17 crore to renovate the dilapidated structures and improve amenities for pilgrims. But politicians allegedly are trying to grab the contracts for the work.
The Ahobilam temple is under the trusteeship of the 625-year-old Ahobilam Mutt. It has never seen such intense activity to dislodge the hereditary archakas and make it into a tourist attraction.
The tourism minister, on a recent visit to the temple, said she would build a shopping complex and develop road infrastructure.
“If resorts are allowed to come up near Sri Ahobilam, it may spoil the sanctity of the sacred region as any entity with commercial interests will try to promote itself at the cost of others,” said a temple employee.
Building a ropeway to connect Nava Narasimhas at a cost of `5 crore is also controversial. A temple off-icial said, “We are already spending about `15 crore to develop amenities in the temple area. Tata Trusts provided us `3.5 crore.”
Narrating the nature of the political interference, he said that the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams had given a grant of `2 crore to built a kalyana mandapam. Contractors with political influence grabbed the construction rights and hardly spent `40 lakh on a shabby structure.
Ahobilam comes under Allagadda constituency which is represented by Bhuma Akhila Priya.
Rangarajan, a descendant of the archakas who also run the Chilkur Balaji temple, says the government is trying to vitiate the religious atmosphere of the temple.
Under the Swadesh Dars-han scheme of the Union government, the tourism department has proposed connecting three temples — Srisailam, Ahobilam and Tirumala — so that devotees can have simultaneous darshans of the presiding deities.
Mr Rangarajan says he is hopeful that a petition pe-nding before the Supreme Court, filed by Swami Day-ananda Saraswathi, will come up for hearing in July and bring clarity on the issue of maintaining the pristine purity of temples.