With the town turning into a virtual fortress ahead of the verdict in the Ayodhya title suit case, the makeshift temple at the disputed site, which is otherwise abuzz with activity, wears a deserted look with the number of devotees trickling down.

“The number of devotees has definitely gone down by almost 60 per cent in the last few days,” head priest of Ram Janambhoomi temple Mahant Acharya Satyendra Das said.

While more than 12 lakh devotees had paid obeisance at the Ramlala temple in August, the turnout in September was between one to 1.5 lakh only, temple sources said.

“Usually 7,000 to 8,000 devotees visit the temple every day, which goes up to 15,000 during peak season,” Acharya Das said.

He said that after the verdict date was fixed by the Allahabad High Court last week, the number of devotees visiting the city drastically came down.

For instance on September 25, only 2,700 devotees visited the temple to pay obeisance to Ramlala, the sources said, adding this number included jawans deployed in the town.

“This is despite the fact that usually the number of devotees increase during ‘pitra paksh’ when people perform ‘shrada’ of their ancestors,” Mahant Das said.

“Those visiting the temple at this time are mostly local residents, who pay obeisance to Ramlala on a daily basis. The actual decline is among devotees coming from outside,” he said.

The turnout of devotees was low even on ‘bhadon purnima’ on September 23.

“The decline in number of devotees has also affected the local business which largely depends on the tourists and visitors,” local businessman Akash Gupta said.

He claimed that curfew-like situation had added to the tension in the city.

Thousands of security personnel have been deployed in the twin towns as a part of security arrangements ahead of the court’s verdict on September 30.

“For the residents of Ayodhya and Faizabad this is recession time,” said Pushpa Srivastava, a medical practitioner.

“There should be an end to all this. People are fed up and wants normalcy to be restored. We want that the verdict should be delivered,” she said.

“Irrespective of the verdict going in favour or against which party, people should take the decision as supreme to strengthen the unity, integrity, brotherhood and democracy,” Mahant of Saryu Kunj Ram Janaki Mandir Jugal Kishore Sharan Shastri said.