Hyderabad: Bigger temple to be built at Khajaguda despite restrictions

The smaller existing temple on the heritage site was demolished days ago, over ‘bad Vaastu’. However, any construction activity on the protected site is illegal.

Hyderabad: The Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple Trust, located on the historic Khajaguda rock site, is all set to reconstruct a temple after it demolished the small existing one just days ago over ‘bad Vaastu’. However, if done, it will be in clear violation of Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority’s (HMDA) laws, which protect the historic site.

According to the trust members, construction of the new, bigger temple will begin in June. The smaller temple that was constructed on the Khajaguda rock site years ago (which was subject of the ire of concerned citizens) was torn down last week on account of bad Vaastu (traditional Hindu architecture system).

The new temple that will come on the same location, is likely to be even bigger. Chairperson of the trust, Satyanarayana, insists that the construction of the Temple is completely legal. “The trust has been allotted 178 acres for the Temple. The government has allowed us permission to begin construction on same land where the previous Temple stood,” he told Siasat.com.

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“Some people are talking about something called Fakhruddin Gutta – no such thing exists in the records. Hindu temples were destroyed in this site many years ago, and all we are doing is reconstructing them. After the temples were destroyed, they built a Dargah there and we have no problem with that, but the land originally belongs to the Anantha Padmanabha Swamy trust,” he claimed.

Satyanarayana added that the state endowment commissioner has given them clarity upon the matter.

However, HMDA officials said that the construction of anything in the area is against the law. The Telangana high court in 2019 decreed the 180 acres of the Khajaguda heritage rock site to be a protected site, and made the HMDA its custodian.

An official from the HMDA said, “The whole area is a protected heritage site and the building that was there previously was not a permitted construction. Apart from what is already wrong, their planning of a larger temple is worse.” The official added that permissions for the construction completely depends on current political factors and the HMDA’s will.

In February, the Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple Trust was found to be drilling into the heritage rocks in the area to install a borewell to supply water to their cowshed. This move was, of course, illegal.

At the same time, rock climbing enthusiasts and ecologists from the ‘Society to Save Rocks’ began a campaign in February to stop illegal demolition of rocks at Khajaguda. The organisation had submitted documents to the HMDA, which prompted government officials to do a survey in the area, leading to them confirming that construction in the area was not permitted.

In March, the Telangana government suspended a Village Revenue Assistant (VRA) after it was found that four persons had encroached and destroyed rocks at the historic Khajaguda rock site. Municipal Administration and Urban Development special secretary Arvind Kumar said that six security guards now be placed at the site 24/7 to protect it.

Currently, HMDA is also conducting a survey on the site, after which it will fence it, to prevent further demolition.

Fakhruddin Gutta (Khajaguda) heritage site is divided between Puppalguda and Khajaguda villages. Trekkers, rock climbers, walkers, and naturalists have been frequenting the site for a decade.

The Khajaguda rock site also hosts the Hyderabad Climbing Championship, which is gaining recognition across the country. However, for more than a decade, the place has been witnessing drilling and destruction at the hands of local real estate developers, which is now being met with resistance from activists and various citizen groups.

Earlier, representatives of Hyderabad’s rock climbing community and trekking clubs appealed to the Telangana urban development minister KT Rama Rao to intervene immediately to instruct the Conservator of Forests, Ranga Reddy District, and coordinate with the GHMC, HMDA, and district collector of Ranga Reddy to stop all further encroachment work. They asked him to constitute a high level committee for investigating the role of local MRO of Gandipet and Forest Conservator of Ranga Reddy.

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