The shrine witnesses heavy flow of devotees from Tamil Nadu

“We do not have any problem here. We came along Shencottai and Kumili and we have had our darshan,” this was how a group of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu reacted on Tuesday to questions of representatives of the media centre being run at Sabarimala jointly by the Travancore Devaswom Board and the Information and Public Relations Department of the State government.

The group, with just one woman pilgrim, appeared to be on a spiritual high after climbing the 18 holy steps and having the darshan of the Ayyappa idol.

Sabarimala witnessed a heavy flow of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu on Tuesday. The Valiya Nadapanthal was teeming with pilgrims right from the time the temple opened at 3 a.m. A Nadaswaram concert was what another team of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu had to offer to the lord when the temple opened. They were the centre of attraction this morning.

Guruswami Manohar, who was leading a team of 30 pilgrims from Adyar in Chennai, said that they did not have to face any problem anywhere in Kerala. They too had come along Shencottai. They did not have to face any problem on the way. “We have had first-class darshan,” he said.

A woman pilgrim from Thoorapakkam in Chennai was in a spiritually ecstatic mood because of the wonderful darshan she had. She said that she planned to go to Courtallam and would return only after visiting Palani.

“When I embarked on the pilgrimage, I heard that there was trouble in Kerala. But I left, invoking the Swami in my mind. I did not have to face any problem anywhere. Everything is fine in Sabarimala too. I had good darshan, good food. I am happy,” said Murugan Swami from Mount Road in Chennai.

He had come to Sabarimala along with 13 others. He said the members of the team would convey their experience to everyone when they got back home.

Govindachami from Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, who had been making the pilgrimage for the past 30 years, said that he did not have to face any problem. He planned to return only after darshan at the Kodungalloor and Chottanikkara temples.

Special arrangements

Correspondent writes from Kattappana:

Special arrangements have been made in Idukki district for Sabarimala pilgrims in connection with the Mandalam Makaravilakku pilgrimage.

Special security measures will be taken on all forest paths, including the Azhuthakkadavu-Pampa route. A Fire and Rescue Services unit will begin functioning at Uppupara from January 1; two units have started functioning at Kumily and Vandiperiyar, the main towns on the Sabarimala route.

The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will ply more buses depending on the rush of pilgrims.

New bus services will be launched on the Kumili-Kozhikkanam route. On the Makaravilakku day, nearly 70 buses will ply on the route.

Private vehicles and taxis will be controlled on the Vallakkadavu-Sathram route. Barricades will be erected in dangerous areas at Panchalimedu, and lighting arrangements made in areas where pilgrims crowd.

Signage will be set up in five languages — English, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada — at main junctions in Kumili.

Those who open eateries and other shops on the Sabarimala route should get permission. Shops that hinder traffic will not be allowed.

The District Collector has given directions to the District Medical Officer and the tahsildars to check the quality of food served to the pilgrims. Prices should be displayed prominently at the shops.