Staff Reporter

Pilgrims will be allowed to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara from the nearest point -- ‘Kulasekhara padi’

TIRUMALA: After nearly two decades, common pilgrims are being allowed to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara from the nearest point -- ‘Kulasekhara padi’ -- inside the sanctum sanctorum.

At a time when ‘Maha Laghu’ darshan system (from the point of Jaya and Vijaya - a distance of about 20 metres) which of late has become the order of the day, TTD Executive Officer I.Y.R. Krishna Rao issued orders to allow devotees till the ‘Kulasekhara padi’ when the turnout of pilgrims is low.

The system of allowing pilgrims to have darshan from such a close distance was dispensed with in the early 90s.

In its place, the ‘Laghu darshan’ was started for security reasons as well as the need to clear more number of pilgrims owing to heavy turnout. This drew serious criticism but, undeterred, the TTD Board went ahead as the pilgrim crowd which was over 50 lakh a year in the early 90’s crossed the 2-crore mark during the early years of this century.

The management with no other option left confined the privilege of having darshan from the closest point only to devotees attending pre-dawn rituals like Suprabhatam, Thomala Seva, Archana, VIP break darshan and other sevas.

Experimental basis

Mr. Krishna Rao decided to extend the facility on an experimental basis and implemented it for a few hours on Wednesday and Thursday as crowd was comparatively less. Much to his surprise, the management was flooded with phone calls and mails heralding the ‘pilgrim-friendly’ move.

Never anticipated

When contacted, Mr. Rao said he never anticipated such an overwhelming response from people. The information provided by the temple authorities that only a couple of compartments were packed with the waiting pilgrims ‘inspired’ him to go on a trial run.

Review

He said the temple authorities hereafter would regularly review the pilgrim rush at different intervals and alter the darshan system accordingly.