No water to take a holy dip in the Bhima

Empty looking Dattatreya Temple complex in Deval Gangapur in Kalaburagi district.

Empty looking Dattatreya Temple complex in Deval Gangapur in Kalaburagi district.  

The scorching summer and drying up of river Bhima has taken a toll on the inflow of pilgrims to the famous Dattatreya temple at Deval Gangapur on the banks of the Bhima in Afzalpur taluk of the district. Every single pilgrim visiting the temple takes a dip at the ‘sangam’ — a confluence of Bhima and Amarja rivers — a ritual they believe will wash away their sins.

However, this year, the early drying up of the Bhima and Amarja has taken away the charm of the rivers and the temple. The fall in number of pilgrims, which started in early November, has been rapid. “This is the peak season when the temple used to be teeming with pilgrims. But this year, the flow of pilgrims is low owing to the drying up of Bhima river and severe shortage of drinking water in the town,” said Santosh Sadanand Bhat Pujari and Prahlad Pujari, the temple priests.

Water is a scarce commodity here, particularly for pilgrims who are forced to shell out extra money. “I had to pay Rs. 100 per day during my stay, apart from the regular room rent, for the water supplied to my family,” said Deepak Surotrya, a pilgrim from Nasik in Maharashtra.

Apart from shortage of water, the indifferent attitude of the temple administration towards ensuring water supply and the lack of cleanliness on the premises are contributory factors to pilgrims keeping away.

“This is one of the worst maintained temples in south India,” said Praveen Kumar, a pilgrim from Hyderabad. The water tanks installed in the temple have not been cleaned for years and the same water is supplied through taps to pilgrims.

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