The Travancore Devaswom Board has increased the darshan time at Lord Ayyappa by one hour owing to an unprecedented rush of pilgrims on Tuesday. The temple was opened at 3.30 pm in the afternoon, 30 minutes ahead of schedule, besides delaying the closing of the sanctum sanctorum by 30 minutes to 11.30 pm.
The queue for the holy darshan extended even beyond Appachimedu, three kilometres away from the Sannidhanam, on the trekking path.
Pilgrims had to wait for 10 to 12 hours inside the long-winding barricades on the trekking path to reach the temple precincts on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, police have blocked the Sannidhanam-bound pilgrims at regular intervals at Pampa on the foothills of Sabarimala in an effort to regulate the pilgrim flow to the holy hillock and to reduce the human pressure there.
Vehicle parking lots full
The sprawling vehicle parking lots at Nilackal have also been overflowing onto the Plappally-Pampa main trunk road leading to Sabarimala owing to the heavy vehicular traffic to Pampa on Tuesday.
The police have also blocked the Pampa-bound vehicles at Nilackal, 20 km away from Pampa, for a few hours in the afternoon in an effort to ease the congestion at Pampa as well as the Nilackal base camp.
Pilgrims faced much hardship due to the blocking of vehicular traffic for three to four hours, literally leaving them bereft of drinking water and food in the forests.
There were also allegations that the blocking of vehicular traffic was unwarranted, considering the number of vehicles that have reached Pampa in the past 24 hours.
Pilgrims who were stranded on the road due to the traffic block for nearly four hours had to wait another two to three hours at Pampa for climbing Neelimala due to the regulations to enter the Neelimala trekking path from the foothills, later.
The long delay to reach the Sannidhanm has also put many pilgrims coming from outside Kerala in an embarrassing situation as it might upset their return journey by train.
More NDRF personnel
The National Disaster Response Force has deployed 20 more personnel at Sabarimala, making its total strength 135 at the pilgrim centre on Tuesday in view of the steady increase in the number of pilgrims during the Makaravilakku festival.
Meanwhile, the Devaswom executive officer, V.S. Jayakumar told The Hindu that the TDB has got a buffer stock of 15 lakh cans (250 ml each) of Aravana and four lakh packets of Appam at the Devaswom godown at Sannidhanam as on Tuesday afternoon.