The 10-day Dasara festivities of Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy Varla Devasthanam atop Indrakeeladri began on a subdued note on Friday – Ashwayuja Suddha Padyami – with the pilgrims turning out in fewer numbers. The devotees worshipped the goddess who was adorned as ‘Swarna Kavachalankrita Durga Devi' with devotion and fervour.
Under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner of Police M. Ravindranath Babu, the city police made elaborate security arrangements with hundreds of policemen posted at all important points like bathing ghats and on the hillock. Along with the police and the temple staff, NSS volunteers impressed the devotees by offering quick and efficient service in queue lines. Special vehicles were arranged for ferrying the aged and the disabled to the shrine. Barring some special vehicles assigned for the staff of temple duty and those of the police, no other private vehicle was allowed on to the hillock. In view of the expected rush of pilgrims at the prasadam counters, the officials of the Devasthanam opened nearly 14 counters for distribution of prasadam. However, there was no problem in getting prasadam on the first day because of the thin crowd.
The temple was opened with ‘Suprabhata Seva' at 3 a.m., which was followed by ‘Snapanabhishekam' at 3.30 a.m. and ‘Balabhoga Nivedana' at 6.30 a.m. The general public was allowed for darshan from 8 a.m. Uninterrupted darshan was provided till 11 p.m., the temple authorities said. Along with bathing ghats, shower bath facility was arranged at a few other places as well. Special ‘Kumkumarchana' was conducted between 10 a.m. and 12 noon. The queue line that began at Vinayaka temple on Canal Road witnessed sparse movement of devotees. The authorities for some time allowed vehicles even up to Model Guest House because of this. Commuters had a tough time reaching down the temple, as the frequency of free buses was not maintained properly. Arrangements were made to guide the public through public address system. At a review, In-charge Collector Gaurav Uppal expressed his satisfaction over the arrangements at the temple and suggested to the temple authorities to increase the quantity of drinking water for distribution to devotees. He asked them to arrange ‘Annadanam' at prasadam counters and provide fans for devotees in queue.