The state government on Monday took over the historic Raghunath ji Temple that is under the charge of Maheshwar Singh, the scion of Kullu Raja, who is its chief kardar. The Himachal cabinet cleared a proposal in this regard in a meeting held.
Maheshwar Singh, Kullu MLA and a former BJP heavyweight who had left the party in 2012 to form Himachal Lokhit Party, had been opposed to any attempt to take control of the temple.
Significantly, Maheshwar Singh’s younger brother Karan Singh, who is Minister for Cooperative and Ayurveda, was also present in the cabinet when the proposal was cleared.
Raghunathji is the presiding deity of Kullu, and his chariot leads the historic Kullu Dussehra celebrations at Dholpur maidan, where some 300 idols of other deities are brought to pay obeisance to the Lord.
The state government officials are lightlipped over the move that has the backing of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh who had been receiving suggestions to take over the temple for its better management and accounting of donations.
“There is no record of the offerings received at the temple and also expenditures. Now, once the government invokes the Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act 1984 , Maheshwar Singh will have to let go,” said an official at Kullu .
Lord Raghunathj’s idol was stolen in December 2014 along with a few other artefects from the temple that the police recovered later. Ever since, the demand had been growing for the takeover of the temple by the government and upgrading its security.
The temple was constructed in 1660 AD with a mixed look of Pahari and Pyramidal style.