Court moved to get Chintpurni temple to use offering money for charity

Shimla: Gold prices rising making Chintpurni temple in Una richer by the day and pending a dispute of sharing temple offerings notwithstanding, a devotee has petitioned the court to get Himachal’s richest government controlled temple to sponsor philanthropy, improve facilities for pilgrims and check misuse of collections.

Using RTI to obtain information about running of Mata Chintpurni temple trust, Rajneesh Khosla, a collector of rare manuscripts from Amritsar says, “it is ironic that whereas even smaller temples were supporting educational or health institutions, Himachal richest temple does nothing of the sort.”

Pointing out an incident about an alleged theft of a gold chain from the temple offering’s, Khosla said the temples management was squandering pilgrims offerings to even construct private roads that has been revealed in papers obtained through RTI.

A letter to Chief Justice of Himachal, Joseph Kurian by Khosla about the Chintpurni temple trust not running any school or hospital on a regular basis was converted into public interest litigation (PIL) by the court and the state in June was asked to take appropriate action.

Chief Commissioner (Temple) cum principal secretary, Manisha Nanda says, “detailed plans have been drawn up for Chintpurni temple trust after studying what work other famous temples are carrying out.”

Under directions from the court Nanda heard out Khosla on Friday and gave details about development plans that the temple trust intended to take up soon.

To push through the government plans, a dispute about sharing of temple offering between hereditary pujaris and the temple administration, pending before the High Court may need to be settled first.

While the temple trust proposes to reduce the 50% cash offering share given to hereditary pujaris under HP Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Act saying it was on the higher side, the pujaris have moved court to stall any such move.

The court has directed the temple administration to place the audited balance sheet on record.

Chintpurni temple happens to be the richest temple in Himachal which is reported to be having accumulated gold offering of over 150 Kgs. The temple in 2006 had a cash collection of Rs 20.8 crore and 25 Kgs of gold.

Including Chintpurni, there are atleast 13 millionaire temples in Himachal, which include Naina Devi in Bilaspur, Jawalamukhi, Chamunda Devi and Brajeshwari Devi in Kangra, Baba Balkhnath in Hamirpur, Bhimakali and Hateshwari in Shimla.

Ten of these temples in 2009 had 410 Kgs of gold reserves, which the government was finding to guard in state treasuries.

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