Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

MP: Locals, Seers Oppose Making Adi Shankaracharya Statue at Sacred Site

Kashif Kakvi |
Seers and local groups have been running signature campaigns, holding protests and are on an indefinite strike. They are asking authorities to shift the project to another place, away from the sacred Mandhata hill.

Bhopal: Protesting the construction of the 108-feet tall statue of Adi Shankaracharya worth 2,141 crores over the sacred Mandhata hill in Omkareshwar pilgrimage landed seers and devotees in jail.

Bhopal police on Tuesday detained over 50 devotees who were protesting peacefully with placards “Hinudo ke dharmik asthal ko tutne se bachaye (Stop the destruction of the sacred site)” and “Dharmik sthal ko picnic spot na banaye (Don’t make the sacred site a picnic spot)” at the Roshanpura square at 11 am, opposing the construction work in Omkareshwar. They alleged that police also assaulted a seer while dispersing the demonstrators.

"We were standing peacefully at Roshanpura square with placards maintaining 8-feet distance when police forcefully removed us citing model code of conduct in place owing to the upcoming civic polls," said Rahul Singh, one of the protestors who have been detained in Ratibad police station. "We ran pillar to post for almost two days to get permission for the protest but in vain. Now, the police have confined us in Ratibad police station," he added.


Denying any assault or action against the protestors, DCP zone 1, Sai Krishna S Thota, said, "The police gently removed the protestors from the site owing to the unavailability of permission. They were removed from the place of protest and dropped on the city's outskirts."

Under the banner of Bharat Hitraccha Abhiyan, residents and seers of Mandhata hill in Omkareshwar have been opposing the ambitious project of the BJP-led Madhya Pradesh government to install the statue of 8th-century philosopher Adi Shankaracharya with a museum dedicated to him along with an international Advaita Vedanta Sanstha at the cost of Rs 2,141 crores. The project, which was approved by the state cabinet on February 8, has been allocated Rs 700 crore in the budget.

The government has planned to complete the project by 2023, just before the scheduled assembly elections.

"The Mandhata hill is a sacred place for Hindus. It's an 'Om' shaped hill where Adi Shankaracharya received his education. Hence, instead of preserving it, the BJP government is digging the sacred hill for their political benefits," said Abhay Jain, president of Bharat Hitraccha Abhiyan.


Locals, priests, seers and tribals who have been living there for decades have been opposing the construction for the past two months. They held protests and signature campaigns in Khargone, Indore, Gwalior, Khandwa and Bhopal. And another group of 10 odd residents of Mandhata under the banner of Omkar Parvat Sangharsh Sammitee is on a hunger strike. Locals joined the protest after Khandwa district authorities razed 12 homes and another 12 structures, including ashrams terming them as "illegal".

"With the help of protests and signature campaigns, we have been trying to create awareness among the masses that how BJP is using a sacred hill for their political ambitions," said Munindar Das Kabber, a seer who has been living on the hills for a decade.

Jain claimed that he was not against the construction of a statue or museum, but it should not be constructed on the Mandhata hill, maybe some other places.

"We are staunch supporters of Hindu faith, but not the Hindutva propagated with political interest. We firmly believe in the teachings of Advaita Vedanta but not at the cost of destroying the natural aura of the religious place and a sacred site," said Jain.

The ongoing project is overseen by Acharya Shankar Sanskritik Ekta Nyas, a trust with Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as its chairman and 14 other trustees.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram