Arrangements in place for Vaikunta Ekadasi festival.

Devotees visiting the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam for the Vaikunta Ekadasi festival will have to enter the temple only through the Renga Renga Gopuram to reach the sanctum sanctorum and pass through the Paramapada Vasal.

Entry through the North Gate would be allowed only for those going to the 1000-pillar mandapam and they would not be able to go to the sanctum sanctorum or the Paramapada Vasal.

Only those entering through Renga Renga Gopuram will be able go to the sanctum sanctorum and the Paramapada Vasal before exiting through the Vellai Gopuram. “The restriction have been introduced for security reasons and devotees should extend their full cooperation,” said P.Dhanapal, Commissioner, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, while speaking at a meeting to review the arrangements made for the festival which got underway at the temple on Friday. The main event of the festival, the opening of the Paramapada Vasal, will be on December 24.

The meeting was chaired by M.S.M.Anandan, Minister for HR&CE, and attended by N.R.Sivapathi, Minister for School Education, Law, Youth Welfare and Sports.

Though an objection was raised to the restriction by a local resident who pointed out that it would be difficult for senior citizens to go via the North Gate, Mr.Dhanapal maintained that senior citizens would be provided wheelchairs.

Mr.Dhanapal also disclosed that closed circuit television cameras have been installed at 16 places in the temple and if necessary more cameras would be installed in consultation with the police. No VIP pass will be issued this year and Ministers and MLAs would be issued badges with their designations. Only two or three persons would be allowed to accompany the elected representatives.

For the first time, about 750 persons would be allowed entry on first-come-first-served basis to the enclosure near Arjuna Mandapam along with an equal number of ticket holders. Mr.Anandan said all necessary arrangements have been made in coordination with various government agencies for the smooth conduct of the festival. Mr.Sivapathi announced that two to five buses would be operated on a circular Mambazhasalai-Rajagopuram-Thiruvanaikovil-Mambazhasalai route. Devotees can travel free of cost on the buses, which are to be hired by the Minister and R.Manoharan,MLA, on contract basis.

Collector Jayashree Muralidharan said a centralised control room has been set up in the temple and it would have representatives from all government agencies concerned for better coordination of the arrangements. A tourist facilitation and information centre will also be located adjacent to it.

Three emergency exits have been identified. City Police Commissioner Shailesh Kumar Yadav said 2,000 police personnel would be deployed on security duty for the festival. The National Higher Secondary School grounds at Chinthamani, Kumbakonathan Salai and Thimmarayasmudiram will be designated parking areas for heavy vehicles.

Devotees would have to take the circular buses to reach the temple. Light vehicles and two wheelers will have parking space in three segments near the North Gate. Crime prevention teams, comprising plainclothesmen, would also be deployed.

Corporation Commissioner V.P.Thandapani said about 200 sanitary workers would be deployed for sanitation work. Twenty-one toilets, four temporary toilets and five mobile toilets would be available for devotees in the town. Mr.Anandan instructed the Commissioner to ensure that the toilets were cleaned on a continuous basis with adequate water supply. Special medical camps are to be organised by the Corporation and Health Department.

The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation will operate 50 special buses to the temple from the city and 50 others on mofussil routes.

A Railway official informed the meeting that the Vaigai Express would halt at Srirangam on both directions from December 23 to 25. Additional coaches would be added to a few trains.