The Indian epic Valmiki Ramayana says that Lord Hanuman, a Hindu God, was born at Kishkinda’s Anjanadri Hill. Where is Anjanadri Hill located?
Currently, some say it is in Andhra Pradesh, others claim it is in Maharashtra, and many believe it to be in Karnataka.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has decided to go with the third claim. The CM has decided to spend Rs 100 crore to create a pilgrimage centre at Koppal’s Anjanadri Hill, believed to be Hanuman’s birthplace by millions of devotees. Bommai wants to develop the Hanuman shrine at the hill along the lines of Lord Ram Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya. But is there a political calculation behind the CM’s decision?
What Does the Epic Say & Who Have Claim?
According to the Ramayana, Hanuman was born at Anjanadri Hill in the Kishkinda region ruled by King Vali. The hill was named after Hanuman’s mother Anjana who is believed to have undertaken penance before giving birth to him.
In modern times, according to Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) the Anjanadri is located in Sheshachalam Hill Range. In Karnataka, meanwhile, Koppal is where the hill is believed to be located. The Koppal hill is also called Anjanadri. In Maharashtra, seers claim that Anjanadri Hill is located near Nashik and is called Anjaneri.
At Koppal, the undated shrine atop the Anjanadri Hill is visited by hundreds everyday, making it the most prominent pilgrimage site for devotees of Lord Hanuman. The pilgrims who visit the site also visit the UNESCO world heritage site Hampi, which is also a temple town.CM Bommai’s plan for the Koppal shrine includes a blueprint to build a 430-meter-log ropeway to the top of the hill, parking facility, and shopping complexes at the base of the hill.
The chief minister also wants to widen national highways near the shrine and build arterial roads to it.
‘Temple for Lord Ram in UP & Temple for Lord Hanuman in Karnataka’
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai also instructed the Koppal district authorities to initiate the process foracquiring landto create a pilgrimage centre along the lines of Lord Ram temple at Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya.
Speaking to reporters, in December 2021, the chief minister said that while a temple for Lord Ram is under construction in Ayodhya, a temple for his devotee, Lord Hanuman, should be developed in Karnataka, his birth place.
Prof Narendar Pani, Political commentator and Economist”One must ask what is the labour proportion to the total cost of this Rs 100 crore plan to develop the Anjanadri Hill. If one decides to have a ropeway, then the bulk of the capital will not go to Anjanadri. Instead, it will benefit the company which is making the ropeway.”After chairing a review meet on the development of the project on 29 June 2022, CM Bommai has asked Koppal’s deputy commissioner to acquire land directly from farmers or with the help of Karnataka Industrial Areas DevelopmentBoard (KIADB).
The project which requires over 60 acres of land on the banks of river Tungabhadra is also expected to boost tourism in Hampi.
However, speaking to The Quint, economist Prof Narendar Pani remarked, “The government terms say a lot of money will be sent on the area that is underdeveloped. But, the actual beneficiaries of the project will not be local people from Anjanadri in Koppal.”
BJP’s Politics of Temple Development
CM Basavaraj Bommai has advised the tourism department to complete the tender process for the ropeway by 15 July 2022.
Sources within the BJP also told The Quint that the chief minister wishes to complete the first stage of development before the Assembly elections in 2023. He would want the project to complete by 2024 parliamentary elections.Observing developments surrounding the Anjanadri Hill Development Project, former tourism minister and senior leader of the Congress RV Deshpande told The Quint, “The intention of the BJP might be to develop this pious place. But, there is always a political motive behind their decisions. Apart from developing the shrine, my suggestion to the government is to to think about the infrastructure of the whole region.”
Meanwhile, the BJP in Karnataka welcomed the move by Bommai government and said that other political parties in the state have been dilly dallying on issues which represent Indian culture.
“We are not trying promote one religious issue at the cost of another. But if there is a political dividend by doing what is rightful, that is building a pilgrimage centre as per people’s wishes, then why should we, a political party not reap benefits from it?” said BJP state spokesperson Capt (Retd) Ganesh Karnik in his interaction with The Quint.When asked whether the BJP could get political dividends from the proposed project Karnik said, “The BJP has always promoted values which are close to the heart of majority community in the country. But, we do so by respecting other faiths. We have not addressed this as political issue, but as the will of the people.”
Counter Claims Over Hanuman’s Birthplace
Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) and seers of various religious institutions in Maharashtra’s Nashik, have been opposing the BJP and lakhs of devotees in Karnataka.
A month ago, on 31 May 2022, adharam sansad was held in Nashik to discuss the controversy surrounding of the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The religious congregation saw Mahant Sudhirdas of Lord Kalaram temple in Nashik clashing with Govindananda Saraswati from Karnataka while debating birthplace of Hanuman.
Visibly angry, the seer from Nashik tried to hit pontiff from Karnataka with a news channel’s boom mic, forcing the police to intervene to restore peace and defer the symposium, a purported video showed.The seers and pontiffs of Maharashtra have claimed the actual birthplace of Hanuman to be the Anjaneri Hills between Nashik-Trimbakeshwar. The delegation from Maharashtra which included Kailas Swami Mutt’s Swami Samvidanand Saraswati, Shauche Guruji, and priest Satish Shukla also asserted that their arguments were based on oral traditions and tales the natives have heard from generations.
Based on findings by a committee which included Vedic scholars, astrologers, priests, and former ISRO scientists, the TTD too has claimed Anjanadri Hill located at Sheshachalam range of Tirumala to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. According to the board, AP’s Anjanadri is also the place where Lord Hanuman’s mother undertook penance.