The KCR government, which has allocated Rs 1,800 crore for the plan, believes Yadadri temple will spark an economic boom in the form of allied commercial activity in real estate, tourism, transport, commercial establishments, hotels and spiritual centres.
A little-known cave shrine tucked away in the scenic hills outside Hyderabad is undergoing a lavish government-funded makeover to realise Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s dream of matching India’s richest temple in neighbouring Andha Pradesh’s Tirumala.
The Telangana government has allocated Rs 1,800 crore to develop Yadadri, a centuries-old hill temple dedicated to the Hindu lion-god Narasimha, ringed by eight other hills and lush forests two hour’s drive from Hyderabad.
On the agenda
A sprawling 11-acre temple complex that will consist of seven temple domes, including a 100-foot main dome, a 1,400 acre tourist facilities comprising cottages, multilevel parking, and housing for the temple priests.
The government has already created a special-purpose body for developing Yadadri that has employed more than 500 sculptors, and the first phase of construction is expected to finish by May 2018. The surrounding hills are being developed rapidly and four-lane roads constructed for smoother connectivity.
“Once the project is completed, Yadadri is going to be as big as Tirumala, with even better facilities,” G Kishan Rao, vice-chairman and managing director of Yadadri Temple Development Authority (YTDA), told Hindustan Times. Construction is likely to be completed by 2019.
Observers say the idea of having a Tirumala-like temple in Telangana is the brainchild of chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, who has had a running rivalry with Andhra Pradesh on several fronts since the two states were created from undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2014 — including in the construction of a mega secretariat.
“People of Telangana believe Lord Narasimha is most powerful, who wards off evil spirits and cures psychological disorders. They even believe that they could get cured of physical ailments. That is why the chief minister felt the need to develop Yadadri into a globally-known shrine,” Rao added.
After construction is complete, the footfall is expected to triple from 10,000 to 30,000 a day and the income zoom from an average of Rs 80 crore per year to Rs 200 crore per year, temple authorities say.
“No mortar or bricks are being used in the construction of the temple. As per the temple architecture of the Kakatiya rulers of the Telangana region, only black granite stone is being used,” Kishan Rao said. “A giri pradakshana, a 2.7 km road has been developed for the devotees to circumambulate the hillock as a ritual.”
But even then, Yadadri would find it difficult to match Tirumala that clocks revenues upwards of Rs 2,600 crore.
Nevertheless, the government believes the temple would spark an economic boom in the area in the form of allied commercial activity in real estate, tourism, transport, commercial establishments, hotels and spiritual centres.
But the opposition says the Telangana government is borrowing huge sums from various funding agencies and financial institutions for developmental works like irrigation and power projects, and wasting money on projects such as Yadadri.
“A secular government can support religious activities, but cannot construct temples at the public expense. The money can be better utilised for poverty alleviation programmes,” Telangana Congress secretary Dasoju Sravan told HT.
The plan to transform the ancient temple of Yadagirigutta into Yadadri began in February 2015 with the formation of YTDA headed by the chief minister himself. The surrounding seven villages were brought under the YTDA and the authorities removed all encroachments. Renowned architects and builders were engaged for the make-over. The main temple was closed in April last year and a temporary structure was built to conduct regular rituals for the presiding deity.