MYSURU: Villagers living on the fringes of Bandipur Tiger Reserve now have to produce their Aadhaar card to visit and perform puja at the Huliamma temple inside the forest. They will also be accompanied and monitored by forest department staff.
The Huliamma Betta, where the temple is located, is frequented not only by devotees but by villagers who take a short cut to reach the other side of the forest.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve director T Balachandra said villagers who have to perform puja at the temple have to produce photocopies of their Aadhaar card. “We will accompany them to the temple. We will take the village elders along. The villagers will be supervised by the foresters,” he said.
On September 1, Shivamadaiah of Chowdahalli village in Gundlupet taluk was going to a relative’s place in Hangala, across the forest, to hand over a pair of bullocks. He was walking back in the evening when he was attacked by a tiger near the Huliamma temple. The area falls under Gopalaswamy Betta forest range.
Following the death, the forest department has put restrictions in place for visiting the temple. Villagers have been barred from using the route as a short cut. “As it is a female deity, the villagers used to visit the temple on Tuesdays and Fridays and on no-moon days,” said a forest official. “They would offer non-vegetarian food to the deity and some villagers used to consume alcohol during the puja as well and stray into the forest.”
The officer added that sheep, goats and chickens would be sacrificed and the remains dumped in the forest, drawing leopards and other wildlife. “So we have restricted entry to villagers after the incident,” the officer said.