The annual ‘Giripradakshina’ witnesses unprecedented rush this year
The annual ‘Giripradakshina’ witnessed unprecedented rush of devotees though the event passed off peacefully culminating in the worship of the presiding deity of Simhachalam Sri Varaha Lakshmi Nrusimha Swamy on Monday.
The heavy onrush of devotees that peaked in the early hours of Monday created a near stampede situation. With the police acting in the nick of the time, crowd was controlled but it took quite a long time, up to six hours, for free darshan.
Devotees who started the ‘pradakshina’ early on Sunday reached the uphill early. Though the ‘pradikshana’ has to start after the auspicious ‘Poornima’ many began their yatra on Sunday morning itself and reached the uphill by evening. With those who began in the evening reaching the uphill by midnight, the crowd swelled raising apprehensions over whether the event would be smoothly go off or not.
The devotees, who reached the ‘Toli Pavancha’ around midnight, had to wait for buses till 4 a.m. to go uphill.
With the heavy rush on the hill and the darshan getting delayed devotees had a tough time, particularly after a gruelling walk.
While some were confused about the location of ticket counters etc., forming lines early would have prevented confusion and the near stampede situation, said a devotee from Sitammadhara who returned with his relatives without darshan.
After the darshan, coming down by the steps should have been controlled allowing those climbing the hill for darshan, he felt.
While free refreshments and water were offered en route no such facility was available on the steps. Medical shops did not charge from the devotees.
The RTC ran special buses to Vizianagaram, Chodavaram, Gajuwaka and other areas to clear the rush atop the hill.
“The unprecedented crowd tested us and we put up more barricades, tents and increased queue line lengths to accommodate them,” said Devasthanam Executive Officer K. Ramachandra Mohan. Seeing the devotees turning up in large numbers, additional arrangements began right from Sunday evening, he said.
While the participants in the ‘pradikshana’ were estimated around 2 lakh, those who had the darshan were between 1 to 1.1 lakh. While 8,300 bought Rs.100 tickets, around 9,000 went for the Rs.20 darshan and the rest free darshan that went on till 6.30 p.m.
Around 150 policemen under the supervision of North ACP C. M. Naidu worked all through from Sunday morning, he said. The devasthanam employed the services of 100 private security guards and deployed 300 of its staff for the conduct of the utsav. Free ‘prasadam’ was arranged at the South Gate.