Basavakalyan project: Case of misplaced priorities?

A large part of the kalyani is dry because the feeder channels have been blocked for years now

The kalyani (also called Tripuranta lake) at Basavakalyan in Bidar district is a shadow of its former glory. Built by the Kalyani Chalukya kings, who gave the town its name, a large part of the kalyani is dry because the feeder channels have been blocked. They have not been cleaned for years, while developers have created residential layouts in the watershed.

Despite its connection with Basaveshwara, the 12th century reformer and saint-poet, the town remains as backward as the Kalyana Karnataka region.

While Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has laid the foundation stone for ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’ to mark the town’s association with the saint, an icon of Veerashaiva-Lingayats, questions have been raised about the priorities of the BJP-led government that banks heavily on the community for electoral reasons.

CM’s pet project

The memorial to Basaveshwara’s Assembly of thinkers, reformers, and activists in the 12th century will cost ₹600 crore. In the Assembly session last week, the Chief Minister repeatedly asserted his commitment to the project and said it will be completed within two years and ₹200 crore has already been released for the work.

“What we need is to see that Basavakalyan is developed as an international centre for culture that Basaveshwara represented,” says R.K. Hudgi, who has written books about Basaveshwara and his contemporary Sharanas. “All his life, Basavanna spoke of the importance of the dynamic against the static. Hence, spending that kind of money on a building in memory of Basavanna is ironic,” he said. “We need to spread Basavanna’s message of equality, fraternity, and dignity of labour and his opposition to caste, class, and gender discrimination to the world. Only a cultural centre can do that.”

Bhimashankar Biradar, writer and founder of the Jayadevi Tayi Ligade Literary Association, says that it would have been more meaningful if the government had built a cultural complex with a well-stocked library, an auditorium, and a grand amphitheatre. “We would be happier if the government organises literary events, especially those that compare Vachanas with the Marathi Abhangas and the songs of Telugu Bhakti and the Sufi chants and Naats,” Dr. Biradar said.

A senior IAS officer, who has served in Basavakalyan, said funds to the tune of ₹600 crore would transform the place and meet all its infrastructure needs. “A smart city gets ₹1,000 crore. We can only imagine how ₹600 crore would transform a small town like Basavakalyan,” she said.

Neglected town

The town is so neglected that on most lanes, the gutter runs in the middle of the road since there is no underground drainage system. The town gets drinking water only twice a week and the water purification plant needs an upgrade. The taluk has one government degree college and two government pre-university colleges. Basavakalyan has no postgraduate centre. Gulbarga University is yet to act on its promise of setting up a Vachana Research and Study Centre in Basavakalyan. The 112 villages of the taluk have only 36 high schools between them.

Tourist attractions

Basavakalyan, which was the seat of the Kalyani Chalukyas, has several tourist attractions. At the end of town is the well-preserved three-storey vertical fort that houses a temple and a mosque. History buffs come from afar to look at the tripod-mounted long cannons whose bearings are still functional.

The taluk headquarters town has the resting places or monuments dedicated to 27 Sharanas. They have all been repaired, conserved, and beautified by the Basava Kalyan Development Board. The other attractions developed by the BKDB are the gardens at Bandavara Oni and Tripuranta, the lake temple of Madiwala Machideva, and the meditation chamber of Basaveshwara. The Chalukyan temples of Umapur and Narayanpur predate the stone temples of Hassan and Banavasi.

The Raja Bag Sawar Dargah and the Mallikarjun Swami Dargah are centres of multi-faith worship. The Basavanna temple, the Anubhava Mantapa, and the giant cement statue of Basavanna on the main road attract the faithful in large numbers.

However, there is no system of conducting guided tours. There are neither guides nor special taxis to ferry people.

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