Thousands of devotees converged here for Garuda seva on Saturday, fifth day of the nine-day annual Brahmotsavam of the Venkateswara temple.
The pilgrim crowd had started swelling since Friday evening. One contributing factor was that the first Purataasi Saturday, considered auspicious, coincided with the festival.
The day started with the Mohini avataram procession in the morning. The Lord, as goddess Mohini, was taken round the Mada streets in an exquisitely decorated ivory palanquin.
Even after it was over, the devotees stayed put on the steps of the Mada streets, fearing non-availability of space during the mega Garuda seva procession, which was scheduled for the night. They spent more than 10 hours seated, braving the hot sun. Police manning various entry points had a tough time regulating the teeming crowd.
Darshan lines spilled out of the massive queue complexes and stretched on the roads for a couple of furlongs. The TTD management arranged for supply of free food, along with water sachets and buttermilk packets, not only to the devotees waiting in the darshan lines but also to the thousands who had assembled along the Mada streets since morning.
With the crowd surging, the TTD management advanced the Garuda seva procession by an hour.
There was a heavy rush also for “Divya darshan” tokens issued half-way on the Tirumala footpath.