Kurukshetra’s heritage site bears brunt of illegal commercial activities

  • Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times, Jyotisar (Kurukshetra)
  • Updated: May 12, 2014 00:31 IST

Owing to negligent attitude of the Kurukshetra Development Board (KDB), the ancient banyan tree at Jyotisar under which Lord Krishna is believed to have delivered the sermons of the Bhagavad Gita is being subjected to unauthorised commercial activities.

Located along the Kurukshetra-Pehowa road, Jyotisar is the most visited place of this holy city. Haryana governor Jagannath Pahadia and chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda are the ex-officio chairman and vice-chairman of the KBD, respectively.

The KBD was constituted to look after various tirthas (pilgrimages) located in the 48-km radius of historic Kurukshetra.

Even as many officers of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and the Haryana Civil Services (HCS) are members of the high profile KDB, it miserably failed to check unwanted activities at this heritage site, which is visited by followers of all faiths.

Moreover, nearly a dozen commercial photographers have setup makeshift workstations under the legendary banyan tree for the past few weeks.
This reporter found that the tree-protection platform, which is meant for meditation, had been converted into a temporary photographic studio.
On the tree-protection platform, encroachers have stalled portable photo printers and other photographic devices, and create nuisance on the arrival of visitors here.

“I am a regular visitor to Jyotisar, and it is painful to see that illegal commercial activities have been taken over the banyan tree site. These photographers do not allow pilgrims to undertake parikrama of the holy tree,” said Ved Prakash Beniwal, a visitor from Rajasthan.

Disapproving the commercial activity for maintaining the sanctity of the shrine, director of Institute of Sanskrit and Indological Studies, Kurukshetra University, Prof Shri Krishna Sharma said: “KBD must ensure the spiritual ambiance of the place maintained at all cost. Since Srimad Gita is revered by all faiths worldwide, the sanctity of its birthplace should not be exploited commercially.”

He said the KBD should regulate the photographic activities by granting official permission to some professional photographers. “However, they should not be allowed to convert the holy site as their studios. Their movement inside the premises is legitimate to facilitate the visitors with instant photos, but their workstations should be outside the premises,” Sharma added. KDB chief executive officer (CEO) Subhita Dhaka was not available for comments.

Meanwhile, KDB member-secretary Neelam Pradeep Kasni told Hindustan Times on Sunday that she would inquire into the matter. “The matter was never brought to my notice earlier, now I would look into it,” said Kasni.

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