Maharashtra to develop Lord Hanuman's birthplace in Nashik
In a significant step, the Maharashtra government announced on Saturday that it would develop the historic Anjaneri region of Nashik, which is considered the birthplace of Lord Hanuman, after the Centre's moves to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
State Tourism Minister Aditya Thackeray said that a detailed plan would be made to provide facilities to pilgrims and adventurers who throng the region.
Around 170 kms from Mumbai to the north-east and nestling in the lush green Anjaneri Hills between Nashik-Trimbakeshwar, it is revered as the birthplace of Lord Hanuman and named after his mother Anjani.
"Anjaneri is the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. We intend to not let the sanctity and purity of the place be altered with the ecology being disturbed or destroyed," said Thackeray. He assured that a detailed plan would be prepared which would be in sync with the sanctity of the place without anything that would harm it.
Often referred as the pilgrimage capital of Maharashtra, Nashik is the site of the famous Kumbh Mela which is held on the banks of Godavari river. It also houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingas in the country and the Kusavarta Kund (pond) in this small town is the origin of the Godavari, the second longest river in peninsular India.
Anjaneri is situated 25 kms from Nashik and 7 kms from Trimbakeshwar in the pilgrimage zone which also includes Shirdi Saibaba Temple, Shani Shingnapure and other locations in adjoining Ahmednagar district.
However, in recent months, there have been protests by environmentalists against the state government's move to construct a 14-km road, 18-metres wide, running through the dense forests to connect Anjaneri hilltop with the Mulegaon village at the base in an effort to boost tourism, adventure and related activities.
Thackeray said that the long-proposed and much-discussed road project will not be executed for which he had discussed with Nashik's Shiv Sena MP Hemant T Godse.
"The Maha Vikas Aghadi government is committed to sustainable development. We discussed the sensitivity of the Anjaneri ecology for example, the 'Ceropegia Anjanerica' is a plant species found nowhere else in the world than Anjaneri," Thackeray pointed out.
The region is teeming with flora and fauna, including over 350 species of plants, 13 species of mammals, hundreds of species of amphibians, reptiles and insects, more than 100 species of birds including many rare, endangered and protected ones, besides leopards, hyenas, porcupines, etc.
Green activists fear that if the road comes up to the hilltop, the local environment would be destroyed and many of the plants, birds, and animals maybe lost forever.