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Save Gita Mandir from imminent ruin, turn it into a tourist spot

By Pradip Kakati
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GITA MANDIR, situated in the eastern part of Guwahati city on a hillock near the BSF headquarters on the Mother Teresa Road (formerly Zoo-Narengi Road), has tremendous tourist potential. The area surrounding the temple is covered with valuable teak and sal trees, maintaining ecological balance in the entire residential area.

Gita Mandir has a history which probably is not known to many. The former Chief Minister of Assam and Governor of Punjab, Mahendra Mohan Choudhury, had dreamt of constructing a Gita Mandir during the 1960s. Accordingly, he discussed his plan with some of his close friends like Satis Ch Kakati, Chidananda Das, Gauri Shankar Bhattacharyya, Prabin Phukan, Ramesh Chandra Choudhury and a few others. Based on the decision of the meeting, they were looking for a suitable plot of government land in and around Guwahati. Ultimately, the present plot was selected, mainly because of its panoramic view surrounded by natural beauty. However, today you would not see such a beautiful panoramic view, as it has been lost completely due to earth-cutting and encroachment of the adjoining hills. Keeping in mind the proposed construction of the Mandir, a meeting of renowned personalities of Guwahati, under the presidentship of Danbeer Keshab Kanta Barooah, was held during October 1969, where a society named �Gita Samaj� was formed for religious and various charitable purposes. In that meeting, MM Choudhury placed his proposal for construction of �Gita Mandir� wherein people from all sections could gather and offer worship. Gita Samaj was registered vide registration No.74 under the Societies Act on December 9, 1969.

Meanwhile, Gita Samaj approached the government for land allotment for constructing the temple and accordingly 25 bighas of government land was allotted in 160/173 dag of myadi patta of Beltola Mouza (village Hengrabari) under Kamrup district in December 1969. After the completion of all formalities for taking over the said plot, construction of the temple, including a guest house and a library, was started.

On December 6, 1971, the foundation stone of the guest house and the library was laid by Swami Krishnananda Brahmachari. The above mentioned personalities took pains to raise the required fund for the construction under Choudhury�s leadership. Initially Choudhury donated his one month�s salary for the purpose. The then Chief Minister of Punjab, Giani Zail Singh, along with his Cabinet colleagues and all the MLAs of the Punjab Assembly, also donated their one month�s salaries on a request from MM Choudhury, who was then the Governor of Punjab. This was possible only due to the cordial relationship between Choudhury and the Punjab legislators. In addition, on Choudhury�s request, various private and public sector companies as well as individuals of Punjab also donated substantial amounts towards the construction of Gita Mandir. The Assam Government was kind enough to render help to develop the required infrastructure, like construction of a road to the Mandir premises, electricity, water supply, etc. The main gate in front of the Mandir was constructed at a cost of around one lakh rupees. The approach gate was constructed with financial help from Satis Ch Kakati and Radha Bora. On the 15th of April, 1975, the foundation stone of Gita Mandir was laid by the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Giani Zail Singh, and he also inaugurated the temple on December 11,1981, when he was the President of India.

The guest house was named �Gopinath Bordoloi Bhawan� after the first Chief Minister of Assam and the library was named after MM Choudhury, which was inaugurated in May 1992 by the then Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia.

However, at present, both the guest house and the library are on the verge of becoming unfit for use. Due to paucity of fund, the Gita Mandir management committee could not even build a boundary wall, because of which most of the allotted land of Gita Mandir and the vacant government land in and around the temple have been encroached and various structures have been built on them.

It is complained by the residents of the locality that antisocial elements are taking advantage in the Mandir premises, particularly in the evening hours, due to insufficient lights on the approach road from the Mother Teresa Road. Local residents allege that in spite of complaints made from time to time to the local administration, no positive step has been taken by the authority to keep the Mandir premises free from the clutches of antisocials. We request the local administration for arranging sufficient security personnel and streetlights in the Mandir premises in the interest of the devotees. Due to financial constraints of the management committee, the temple is not functioning smoothly and is on the verge of ruin.

It is pertinent to mention here the erstwhile society was converted into a trust on July 29, 1988, with 11 members. But, unfortunately, eight of the 11 members have already expired. Similarly, the Gita Mandir management committee also had seven members and all but two have expired. Considering this, we request the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup Metro to form a new trust board in accordance with the Clause 4 of the Gita Samaj trust deed and also reconstitute the Gita Mandir management committee.

We also request the State Tourism Department to take over the maintenance of the Gita Mandir along with the guest house and the library so that the Mandir may be turned into an important tourist spot. We also request the BJP-led State government to take up the issue with the Union Tourism Ministry to bring Gita Mandir under the �Pilgrimage Rejuvenation Spirituality Augmentation Drive� (in short �PRASAD) for all-round development of the temple and make it one of the model tourist spots of India.

We request the district authority to take immediate steps to demarcate the entire area of Gita Mandir measuring 25 bighas, clear all the illegal encroachments, and hand over the same to the Gita Mandir management committee immediately. The boundary wall should also be erected along with streetlights so that the Gita Mandir remains well-protected. In this regard, we welcome the recent decision of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to demarcate the areas of Sattras and clear illegal encroachments around the Sattras throughout the State. Oil giants like OIL, ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation, Numaligarh Refinery, besides State Bank of India, should also come forward to develop the Gita Mandir premises under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scheme.

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Save Gita Mandir from imminent ruin, turn it into a tourist spot

GITA MANDIR, situated in the eastern part of Guwahati city on a hillock near the BSF headquarters on the Mother Teresa Road (formerly Zoo-Narengi Road), has tremendous tourist potential. The area surrounding the temple is covered with valuable teak and sal trees, maintaining ecological balance in the entire residential area.

Gita Mandir has a history which probably is not known to many. The former Chief Minister of Assam and Governor of Punjab, Mahendra Mohan Choudhury, had dreamt of constructing a Gita Mandir during the 1960s. Accordingly, he discussed his plan with some of his close friends like Satis Ch Kakati, Chidananda Das, Gauri Shankar Bhattacharyya, Prabin Phukan, Ramesh Chandra Choudhury and a few others. Based on the decision of the meeting, they were looking for a suitable plot of government land in and around Guwahati. Ultimately, the present plot was selected, mainly because of its panoramic view surrounded by natural beauty. However, today you would not see such a beautiful panoramic view, as it has been lost completely due to earth-cutting and encroachment of the adjoining hills. Keeping in mind the proposed construction of the Mandir, a meeting of renowned personalities of Guwahati, under the presidentship of Danbeer Keshab Kanta Barooah, was held during October 1969, where a society named �Gita Samaj� was formed for religious and various charitable purposes. In that meeting, MM Choudhury placed his proposal for construction of �Gita Mandir� wherein people from all sections could gather and offer worship. Gita Samaj was registered vide registration No.74 under the Societies Act on December 9, 1969.

Meanwhile, Gita Samaj approached the government for land allotment for constructing the temple and accordingly 25 bighas of government land was allotted in 160/173 dag of myadi patta of Beltola Mouza (village Hengrabari) under Kamrup district in December 1969. After the completion of all formalities for taking over the said plot, construction of the temple, including a guest house and a library, was started.

On December 6, 1971, the foundation stone of the guest house and the library was laid by Swami Krishnananda Brahmachari. The above mentioned personalities took pains to raise the required fund for the construction under Choudhury�s leadership. Initially Choudhury donated his one month�s salary for the purpose. The then Chief Minister of Punjab, Giani Zail Singh, along with his Cabinet colleagues and all the MLAs of the Punjab Assembly, also donated their one month�s salaries on a request from MM Choudhury, who was then the Governor of Punjab. This was possible only due to the cordial relationship between Choudhury and the Punjab legislators. In addition, on Choudhury�s request, various private and public sector companies as well as individuals of Punjab also donated substantial amounts towards the construction of Gita Mandir. The Assam Government was kind enough to render help to develop the required infrastructure, like construction of a road to the Mandir premises, electricity, water supply, etc. The main gate in front of the Mandir was constructed at a cost of around one lakh rupees. The approach gate was constructed with financial help from Satis Ch Kakati and Radha Bora. On the 15th of April, 1975, the foundation stone of Gita Mandir was laid by the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Giani Zail Singh, and he also inaugurated the temple on December 11,1981, when he was the President of India.

The guest house was named �Gopinath Bordoloi Bhawan� after the first Chief Minister of Assam and the library was named after MM Choudhury, which was inaugurated in May 1992 by the then Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia.

However, at present, both the guest house and the library are on the verge of becoming unfit for use. Due to paucity of fund, the Gita Mandir management committee could not even build a boundary wall, because of which most of the allotted land of Gita Mandir and the vacant government land in and around the temple have been encroached and various structures have been built on them.

It is complained by the residents of the locality that antisocial elements are taking advantage in the Mandir premises, particularly in the evening hours, due to insufficient lights on the approach road from the Mother Teresa Road. Local residents allege that in spite of complaints made from time to time to the local administration, no positive step has been taken by the authority to keep the Mandir premises free from the clutches of antisocials. We request the local administration for arranging sufficient security personnel and streetlights in the Mandir premises in the interest of the devotees. Due to financial constraints of the management committee, the temple is not functioning smoothly and is on the verge of ruin.

It is pertinent to mention here the erstwhile society was converted into a trust on July 29, 1988, with 11 members. But, unfortunately, eight of the 11 members have already expired. Similarly, the Gita Mandir management committee also had seven members and all but two have expired. Considering this, we request the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup Metro to form a new trust board in accordance with the Clause 4 of the Gita Samaj trust deed and also reconstitute the Gita Mandir management committee.

We also request the State Tourism Department to take over the maintenance of the Gita Mandir along with the guest house and the library so that the Mandir may be turned into an important tourist spot. We also request the BJP-led State government to take up the issue with the Union Tourism Ministry to bring Gita Mandir under the �Pilgrimage Rejuvenation Spirituality Augmentation Drive� (in short �PRASAD) for all-round development of the temple and make it one of the model tourist spots of India.

We request the district authority to take immediate steps to demarcate the entire area of Gita Mandir measuring 25 bighas, clear all the illegal encroachments, and hand over the same to the Gita Mandir management committee immediately. The boundary wall should also be erected along with streetlights so that the Gita Mandir remains well-protected. In this regard, we welcome the recent decision of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to demarcate the areas of Sattras and clear illegal encroachments around the Sattras throughout the State. Oil giants like OIL, ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation, Numaligarh Refinery, besides State Bank of India, should also come forward to develop the Gita Mandir premises under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scheme.

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