The travails of the visiting devotees would have gone worse due to the two-day ‘Tirupati Digbandhanam’ call given by the various Joint Action Councils (JACs) on Friday, had not the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) stepped in.
The TTD management, with all its financial wherewithal and manpower, was determined to rise to the occasion to minimise the inconvenience to the pilgrims by taking up operations hitherto considered unconventional.
As RTC buses were already off the road and the taxis, autorickshaws and cab services also stayed away on these two days to extend solidarity to the agitation, the TTD pressed into service its own fleet of ‘Dharma Ratham’ buses to ferry pilgrims from the Tirupati railway station to Alipiri, the foot of Tirumala hills. Executive Officer M.G. Gopal and Joint Executive Officer (Tirumala) K.S. Sreenivasa Raju personally monitored the ferry operations.
As hotels and eateries remained closed, the temple management stepped in by arranging breakfast and lunch for the visitors alighting at the railway station and also at Alipiri. The TTD provided upma, sambar rice and curd rice to 45,000 persons and served milk to 16,000 visitors on Friday.
Chief Vigilance and Security Officer G.V.G. Ashok Kumar personally served milk to the devotees on foot. “We ran 500 trips with the 16 buses between the two points in the city, thus transporting 35,000 passengers today,” General Manager (Transport) P.V. Sesha Reddy added. Several employees of the TTD’s health, Annadanama and transport departments stayed put at the railway station area.