A number of devotees visit this temple on week days too. But, a few factors, pollution being the main one, have been keeping many away from it since the last many years.
With the Visakhapatnam Port Trust putting in place pollution control measures, including laying of a closed conveyor belt to carry coal, a cleaner atmosphere now prevails at the Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple located adjacent to the harbour channel and the area surrounding the hillock on which it is located.
Till a year ago, devotees had to travel along the road that was slimy with coal dust mixed with water, which even made their vehicles get a thick coat of coal dust.
With cleaner conditions prevailing now, the temple authorities and priests are hopeful that this year’s annual Tirukalyana Mahotsavam of the Lord, to be organised from June 18 to 24 would draw more number of devotees, besides improving the turnout after the festival.
With the VPT set to initiate more measures to control pollution, the devotees were in for a pleasant experience at the temple in the days to come, said temple Executive Officer B. Prasad at a press conference on the temple premises on Saturday. Sampatkumaracharyulu, who is the ‘sthanacharyulu’ of the temple, senior priests — Srinivasacharyulu, Krishnacharyulu, and Ramanujacharyulu — were present. The ‘Kalyanotsavam’ would be performed from 4.30 p.m. on June 19, ‘Tiruveedhi Utsavam’ on June 20, and ‘Teppotsavam’ on June 22.
Drop in the number of devotees is attributed as one of the reasons for withdrawal of city buses up to the temple. Devotees now have access to temples of Sri Venkateswara Swamy in the new areas of the city.
“From old post office bus stop, one has to walk for nearly one kilometre to reach the temple. With not many visiting the temple, the APSRTC withdrew its services on seven routes up to the temple six years ago,” said the temple staff.
Legend has it that the idol of Sri Venkateswara with His consorts was believed to have been found off the Visakhapatnam coast in 1792 when a Dutch ship was grounded after hitting it.
The ship was believed to have survived a severe storm after one of its Hindu sailors offered prayers to the Lord. The idol was installed on the Sringamani hillock by the local people.
Later, employees of the Visakhapatnam port developed the temple. The Department of Endowments took it over in 1954. The VPT has extended its support to the temple and still provides a launch and some boats for conducting the teppotsavam.
Rituals during the Kalyanotsavam period are performed with donations made by devotees in the past, which were converted into fixed deposits. The temple, however, needs support of the devotees to take up repair works.