Amid the ongoing protests over Telangana, the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam is gearing up for the nine-day Brahmotsavam commencing on October 5, 2013. Besides adequate transport, food and security arrangements, steps were taken to create facilities for the differently-abled and senior citizens at Tirumala, TTD Trustee N. Kanniah said on Friday.

Briefing journalists on the preparations for the Brahmotsavam, he said that on a request by the TTD the Railway Board had agreed to operate special trains from Chennai to Tirupathi and also augment coaches in the scheduled trains to clear the extra rush of pilgrims.

Since many transport workers were participating in the ‘Samaikya Andhra’ agitation, the number of bus services to Tirumala had come down drastically.

“We are negotiating with the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) and private operators to ply adequate buses to Tirumala from the foothill (Alipiri) and Tirupathi railway station…a few lakh devotees are expected to visit the hill shrine during the Brahmotsavam,” he said.

TTD was planning to erect a special platform for the benefit of the differently-abled and senior citizens. The world famous Tirupathi laddu was being enriched with more cashew nuts and raisins.

“We are revising the quantity of ingredients that was fixed in 1991. The TTD is already incurring a loss of Rs. 60 crore each year by way of distributing free laddus to pilgrims.

This initiative will cause an additional burden of Rs. 12 crore.”

Budget hotels

Dr. Kanniah said the TTD proposed to establish budget hotels in Tirumala and provide quality food to pilgrims at an affordable price.

“We are looking at giving a meal for Rs. 10. The TTD is providing free food to pilgrims on padayatra and also to those waiting in long queues for darshan. Though ‘annadanam’ was arranged everyday, many people were reluctant to avail the facility thinking that it was meant only for the poor,” he said.