Bateshwar (Uttar Pradesh): The ancestral home of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Bateshwar, where the former prime minister spent much of his childhood, is in a poor state - just like the 88-year-old's own health.

The house is literally in shambles. Neither the state nor the central government agencies have done anything to maintain the house with which the emotions of millions of his admirers are associated.

Born in Gwalior exactly 88 years ago on this day where his father was employed as a teacher, Vajpayee spent his childhood in Bateshwar where his family lived.

Early on Sunday, the admirers of the former prime minister organised special prayers for his health in Bateshwar's temples.

However, there's a sense of disappointment among people who feel let down that despite Vajpayee's association with the town, development has not touched their lives.

'Even the train connectivity from Etawah to Bah, the sub divisional headquarters, which Vajpayee had promised is taking unusually long. Work is progressing if at all at a snail's pace,' says Arvind, a resident.

Subodh Sharma, a student here, feels Vajpayee's ancestral house should be acquired by the government and converted into a memorial.

Vajpayee was arrested in Bateshwar during the 1942 Quit India movement.

In the past, Vajpayee himself on many occasions has expressed concern at the lack of state patronage to the historical sites in the Bah area - once the capital of Sri Krishna's father Vasudev.

Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, says: 'Through the Archaeological Survey of India, the union government should take over the responsibility of maintenance and promotion of the whole area which is so rich in heritage wealth.'

Plans have been floated to promote Bateshwar, around 70 km from Agra, as a tourist spot, particularly for adventure tourism in the ravines of Chambal and Yamuna.

Demands have also been made to protect and maintain the house where the Vajpayee family lived, and in the courtyards of which little Vajpayee played and studied till the family shifted to Gwalior.

Bateshwar is also an important spiritual and cultural centre, known for its 101 Shiva temples in a row - all painted in white.

(Agencies)