With just a month left for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season at Sabarimala, the city police are on the lookout for parking lots for the 13,000-odd vehicles that are expected to bring Ayyappa devotees to the city daily for darshan at Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
The city police are anticipating an unprecedented rush of Ayyappa devotees from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra from November 17 in the wake of the riches found recently in the subterranean vaults of the temple.
Entry of vehicles through the main roads leading to the four doors of the temple has been restricted as part of the Rs.41-crore five-tier security system implemented by the State government.
With parking restrictions in force around the temple, the number of vehicles that can be parked there has come down to below 500.
As Gandhi Park is the only designated parking lot in the East Fort area, the city police are pondering how to facilitate parking of vehicles in the vicinity of the Fort area without affecting the flow of traffic.
The police are also concerned about the LPG cylinders or kerosene stoves that will be carried by almost all the vehicles transporting devotees from other States as the pilgrims usually cook food in the parking lots.
The city police, with 750 personnel for general duties and another 300 exclusively for traffic duties, will find regulating traffic a tough job with the arrival of the thousands of vehicles to the Fort area daily.
A senior police official said they needed three times the present strength of the personnel to regulate the vehicles that were expected to arrive, else the vehicles, coming round the clock through M.C. Road to East Fort, would paralyse the city.
Chain services mooted
The city police have worked out several plans to manage the anticipated traffic. They have requested the city Corporation to permit parking of vehicles at Putharikandam Maidan. It is estimated that 1,000 light motor vehicles can be accommodated here.
The Kazhakuttam-Inchivila NH 47 bypass has been identified for parking of buses. The official said the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) had been asked to operate chain service to the Fort area for the benefit of devotees coming to Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. This would be a major source of income for the KSRTC.
Another proposal being considered is the use of the parking lot of the Attukal temple for the parking of buses.
The trust can levy parking fee on the buses. The devotees can have darshan at the Bhagavathy temple too. It is estimated that 50,000 vehicles can be accommodated in the parking lot of the temple. The KSRTC can operate chain services from here also to the Fort area.
Other parking slots identified for buses include the side of the bund road from Killipalam via Padassery to the Attukal temple, open spaces in the Karimadhom colony, and the grounds of schools at Killipalam.
The official said civic authorities would have to arrange toilet facilities in the proposed parking lots and in the Fort area for the devotees.
Keywords: Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple