Gangjam: The demand to name Baba Balilokanath temple as a tourist spot has gained new momentum. The renowned temple is located in a forest on the banks of the Rushikulya river in the village of Malijagannnathpur under the panchayat of Kainchapur in the district of Ganjam.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik once called the temple grounds the best in the district in a tweet. Referring to this, the temple management committee asked why the government had not yet granted the status of “tourist spot” to this Shaivite shrine.
At a press conference here recently, the committee informed that in 2015, the chief temple director, B Banamali, took the initiative to develop the shrine. For this, he brought the villagers together and incurred the initial expenses out of his own pocket. In an effort to beautify the temple and attract visitors, he had a park built near the temple, planting flowers and medicinal plants.
Later, an outdoor gymnasium for young people, a toilet and a rest house for visitors from distant places were built. Two gardeners have been appointed to maintain the park. Their salaries are also paid by Banamali. A Kalyan Mandap, public kitchen, storage room and puja mandap were also built with contributions from locals and those who visit the temple. A famous fabric company built the âprasadalayaâ.
The committee also informed that the district administration had only provided money under the MGNREGS for the development of the park. But he cares less about his upkeep.
âIn 2019, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik praised the park, calling it the best in the district. He thanked the local sarpanch for creating such a beautiful park, the committee said, citing the CM of Odisha.
Sarpanch G Santosh Reddy informed reporters that the district administration has spent Rs 30 lakh for the development of the park. Discussions are also underway with officials from the Directorate of Culture so that the status of “tourist site” can be granted soon. Lack of apathy on the part of officials prevented the shrine from obtaining âtourist spotâ status.