Chikballapur tourism council has begun feasibility studies and will identify ideal location at the base of the hills
Almost 26 years after he died in a horrendous car crash, the unforgettable Kannada cine star Shankar Nag’s unfulfilled dream of a ropeway to carry tourists up to Nandi Hills from its base, is about to come true.
The Chikballapur district tourism council has initiated feasibility studies in December and is scheduled to submit a report to the tourism department through Chikballapur deputy commissioner MV Venkatesh in May 2016.
Venkatesh informed Bangalore Mirror that the feasibility study has been outsourced to a private tourism consultant who is working alongside a team of engineers. They are scouting various spots around the base of Nandi Hills for an ideal location from where cable cars would ferry tourists to the top of the hills and back.
Preliminary plans entail two parallel ropeways with multiple cable cars, each with a capacity to carry 20-30 people.
The objective of this project is to drastically cut down on vehicular traffic on the road winding up to Nandi Hills, which is at an altitude of 1,831 feet from the base of the hills (it is 1,848 feet above sea level). Venkatesh said they were looking at various locations around the base of the hills from where the cable-car ropeway would connect with the hilltop.
However, sources involved in the study said the most likely spot would be Karahalli Cross, which lies on the approach road from Bellary Road to Nandi Hills which leads to a T-junction – the left going to Nandi Hills, and the right going to Chikballapur town.
The official, who is involved in the study but did not want to be named, said, “Karahalli Cross is most likely the spot as it already has a road access, besides it would also benefit those coming from Chikballapur. This fits in well with the state’s tourism plan which is aiming at providing access to tier-2, tier-3 cities and towns as well as the rural areas of Karnataka from tourism hotspots, in this case Nandi Hills.”
Venkatesh said the feasibility studies would also assess the technical aspects of the project besides the costs involved. This would include supportive costs in terms of road-laying to the base station, which in all likelihood would be minimised if the selected location is Karahalli Cross, considering that there is already an existing well-tarred road which is in use.
The Nandi Hills ropeway project has been on the backburner ever since the death of Shankar Nag on September 30, 1990.
Post his death the state government fleetingly looked at the project with limited seriousness with a survey being conducted in 2004-05 through a private company before the project again receded to the backburner.
The project received a much-needed fillip following the new Karnataka tourism policy (2014-2019), one of the objectives of which is to develop pollution-free transport to tourism hotspots – the cable-car ropeway perfectly fitting the bill.
Venkatesh said the project cost would be finalized only after the feasibility study is completed in three months’ time.
However, when the state government last took up a survey in 2004, the officials had estimated each ropeway to cost up to Rs 8 crore. The cost could easily go up to Rs 15-20 crore for each ropeway now, sources said.
In 2004, the project was under the aegis of the horticulture department, which was subsequently handed over to the tourism department. The department in turn has handed it to the district administration under which the district tourism council functions.
IF HE HAD LIVED 6 MORE MONTHS THE PROJECT WOULD HAVE STARTED: ARUNDHATI NAG
It was exactly 30 years ago that Shankar Nag had struck upon the idea of developing a ropeway for Nandi Hills to ferry people up where he had plans to build a huge amusement park. “I remember it was in 1986 when Shankar first told me about this idea of developing a ropeway at Nandi Hills,” said Shankar Nag’s wife Arundhati Nag, herself an actress and a theatre personality who established the famous Rangashankara in JP Nagar.
“I was expecting my baby and we were driving when he mentioned it. He was so excited.” She said Shankar Nag along with a partner had already drawn up the blueprint of the project and had conducted feasibility studies. “But he was so busy with his other projects like Country Club and others that he could not complete this. But had he lived for another six months, he would definitely have started on it.” Shankar Nag died in a tragic car accident on the morning of September 30, 1990 near Anagodu on the outskirts of Davanagere while driving to Dharwad for a film shoot along with Arundhati and four-year-old daughter Kavya.
In his elder brother and actor Ananth Nag’s words, written by him in his brother’s biography, My Brother Shankar, Shankar Nag had excitedly said to him while on a flight: “Different Kinds of amusements, games, toys, garden, and food courts – a huge picnic spot. Thousands of people would come with their families, friends and kids.
To add colour to that, there has to be a ropeway from Nandi base to Nandi Hills with lower ticket charges for children and slightly higher charges for the adults.”