The 12-day river Saraswati pushkarams began at the ancient and historic Sri Kaleshwara Mukhteeshwara Swamy devasthanam at tri-junction of rivers Godavari, Pranahita and Saraswathi in the interior Kaleshwaram village of Mahadevpur mandal on Thursday.

Collector Smita Sabharwal formally inaugurated the pushakarams by offering prayers to river Saraswati amid the chanting of Vedic hymns and carried the water in a special container from the river to the goddess Saraswati temple at the main shrine to perform the puja rituals. She also offered prayers at the temple shrine.

Surprisingly, there was low turnout of pilgrims for the once-in-12-years Saraswati pushkarams at the temple shrine on the first day due to various reasons including the marriage season and prevailing heat wave conditions in the district.

Contrary to the claims made by the district authorities about making elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims there were very few arrangements made. The basic requirement of changing rooms were made for women devotees, who come for a holy dip at the temple shrine.

Due to non-availability of sheds, the pilgrims were forced to walk in the blistering heat wave conditions from the temple to the river, a two-kilometre stretch, for the holy dip. The drinking water and sanitation works were also inadequate.

However, following the Maoists incident in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh, the Karimnagar district police have made elaborate bandobust arrangements by deploying additional police forces all along the route to the temple shrine and in the jungles to check intrusion of naxalites into the district.

Additional police force deployed all along the route to the temple shrine to check Naxal intrusion