Hundreds of pilgrims were stranded at Plappally and other places on Wednesday as the police blocked vehicular traffic on the main trunk road to Sabarimala from morning in an effort to regulate the crowd.
There was a long queue of vehicles even 45 km from Pampa at 6 p.m. The majority of the pilgrims were from the neighbouring States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Some of them blocked KSRTC buses near Laha.
Agitated pilgrims were pacified by Pathanamthitta SP K. Sanjaykumar who incidentally reached the spot on his way to Pampa.
A retired government official, who is at present engaged in voluntary service at a non-governmental organisation in Pampa, told The Hindu that to a large extent the block was caused by mismanagement of traffic by the police.
Lack of co-ordination between police officials deployed at Pampa, the Sannidhanam and at various points on the main trunk road had caused the problem, he said.
Though the police claimed deployment of as many as 1,300 personnel at Pampa alone for crowd and traffic management, their presence was scarce at crowded places.
There were also reports that over-estimation of the crowd at Pampa could have prompted the police authorities to block vehicular traffic at Plappally. However, a few vehicles were permitted to proceed at 8 p.m. following the intervention of Mr. Sanjaykumar, who was in Pampa to monitor the action launched against unauthorised vendors.
The police regulated the pilgrims' flow to the Sannidhanam from Pampa at periodic intervals from Wednesday morning to ease the congestion at the holy hillock. Pilgrims had to wait for 12 to 14 hours inside the thickly-packed barricades beyond Appachimedu, 3.5 km away from the Sannidhanam.
Thousands of pilgrims are camping at the Sannidhanam for Makarajyoti darshan on Friday.