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Fulfilling sheltering needs

Given its ambience, the Bangur Dharmashala has been a haven for North Indian tourists.


IN ANY tour programme finding and fixing a suitable accommodation is a major job on hand. Many a times it consumes major part of the expense. And if the place of visit happens to be a pilgrim centre like Madurai, then there is problem aplenty for the visitors, starting with fleecing autorickshaw drivers.

If the visitor is not fluent with the vernacular then there is every possibility of him being gulled by any broker. The Temple City being a transit point for visitors in the South, every year, a good number of middleclass North Indian pilgrims arrive here. And to cater to the sheltering needs of these pilgrims, the Bangur Dharmashala stands solid bang opposite the railway station with plenty to offer.

Established in 1927 by the Magniram Ramkuwar Bangur under the Gouri Devi Trust, Kolkata, the Bangur Dharmashala Yatri Niwas provides accommodation at affordable rates. They collect money as donations for their various charity works. They provide hot water and drinking water. Besides, a good North Indian canteen inside the campus provides meals suiting the tastebuds of visitors at affordable rates.

Given its ambience, the Bangur Dharmashala has been a haven for North Indian tourists. The visitors here get to learn a lot about the hospitality and philanthropy of the Bangurs.

"We get visitors from as far as Howrah, Sholapur, Orissa, Bhopal, Raichur, Muzzafarpur, Ahmedabad. I and my managers Gautam Kumar Vyas and Ramanand Sharma see to it that the pilgrims and visitors to our Dharmashala are treated as guests," asserts

S.Narasimhan, Supervisor.

"Our managers also know multiple languages including Hindi, Bengali, Marwari, Kannada and Telugu, and this helps in lending a more personal and friendly touch to our services," he says.

Initially, the dharmashala's medical aid programme started with financial assistance for the deserving cancer and heart patients. Now it runs its own free medical assistance hospital. Started in June 2003, the hospital immediately attracted patients from all over the City. From Anaiyur to Vilacheri, patients started flowing to the hospital, for they offer free consultation and medicines to the needy every Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. "Our trustees insist that we provide good quality care to our customers. We raise funds for our charity works by renting out our buildings to commercial establishments," explains Mr.Narasimhan.

The Bangur family members have involved themselves in various social services under various charitable trusts such as Gouri Devi Trust, Bharatiya Seva Society, Bangur Trust, Padma Charitable Trust. With more than 10 dharmashalas all over the country — including four in Tamil Nadu — the Bangur Dharmashala in Madurai is managed by trustees Purushotham Das Bangur and Gopal Das Bangur.

Besides the setting up of dharmashalas, they are also running free hospitals elsewhere. These include the Bangur Hospital and Venkatesh Ayurvedic Hospital in Kolkata, Madhusudhan Ayurvedic Aushadalaya, Didwana, Rajasthan and the Bangur Cancer Block at Sawai Mansingh Hospital in Jaipur. Moreover the Bangurs also run educational institutions. To name a few, the Bangur Higher Secondary School, Didwana, Rajasthan, Bangur College, Didwana, Bangur Nagar Arts and Science College in Dandeli in Karnataka, which offers a rare course in Paper and Pulp science.

The Bangurs also support other dharmashalas and mutts in Kanchipuram, Alwar Tirunagari in Tamil Nadu. They also have established free gaushalas in Rajasthan, renovated many temples all over India especially those in Kumbakonam, Sirkali, Pulla Pudhankudi, Rameswaram through their trust Vishnu Temples Jeernodharna Committee.

Besides, they also help deserving poor students by sponsoring their education.

In short, the Bangurs have packed in a lot for the welfare of others. It is a yeoman service that they are rendering voluntarily.

T.SARAVANAN

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