The stage is set for Maha Navami and Vijaya Dashami festivals (part of Maha Navaratri festival) at the famous Sri Mookambika Temple, established by the exponent of Adwaita philosophy Adi Sankara at Kollur in Udupi district on October 23 and 24.
The district administration and the temple authorities have pulled out all stops to make this annual festival a grand success.
The last two days of Maha Navaratri was expected to draw nearly 20,000 devotees a day. With such a massive influx, accommodation could be a problem in a small place such as Kollur. Ajay Kumar, Manager of Hotel Beena Residency, told The Hindu that all the rooms in his hotel had been booked till October 28. But there are about 30 lodges, which could accommodate 1,200 persons, he said.
Rajan P.K., in-charge of Devi Kripa Lodge, said all the rooms in the lodge had been booked till October 26. According to Praveen Kumar, a tour operator who runs nine taxis, except for five or six lodges, which had a fixed rate for their rooms, the rest charged seasonal rates, which could be as high as Rs. 2,500 a day. Some devotees stayed in houses of priests and local people, but here too they had to pay money, he said.
On routine days, nearly 250 passengers alighted at the Mookambika Road Railway Station. “But during Navaratri festival, the number of passengers jumped to nearly 2,000,” said Mr. Kumar.
Sadashiva Prabhu, Assistant Commissioner, said the police had been directed to collect the room tariffs so that tourists were not fleeced. But as the rush was heavy, the devotees stayed in hotels in Udupi, Kundapur, Byndoor, and Hemmady, he said.
In addition to these private lodges, the Temple ran its own lodges such as Lalitambika, Matha Chatra, Swarnambika, Bus Stand Guest House and 44 dormitories. All these five taken together could accommodate nearly 1,700 persons.
Arrangements for parking of buses had been made at the Mookambika High School Grounds. Nearly 200 buses could be parked there. While cars could be parked at the ground near Mookambika Sabha Bhavan and it could accommodate 200 cars.
To manage the rush, the temple would be open early. L.S. Maruthi, Temple Executive Officer, said the temple would be open from 3 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on October 23 and 24. Mangalore Electricity Supply Company had been requested to provide continuous power supply on these two days. The meals at the temple would be served from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 23 and 24. Nearly 20,000 devotees were expected to partake meals in the temple.