Mandalam-Makaravilakku season begins on Friday
With just a day left for the start of the annual pilgrimage to the Lord Ayyappa temple, Sabarimala is witnessing hectic preparations for the smooth conduct of the two-month-long event.
The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), government departments, and other agencies are busy making last-minute arrangements for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku festival.
It is estimated that pilgrims numbering double the population of the State visit Sabarimala, situated in the buffer zone of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, during the period.
Traders have put up temporary sheds to open refreshment stalls and other makeshift shops at Nilackal, the pilgrims’ main base camp; Pampa; and select points along the Pampa-Sannidhanam trekking path.
The TDB has prepared a sprawling 20,000 sq ft area facing the Maramath complex at the Sannidhanam as a resting place for the pilgrims during the season. It will be able to accommodate at least 25,000 people for the Makarajyoti darshan too, K. Ravikumar, TDB Chief Engineer said. Roofing work along the pilgrims’ path from Neelimala to Appachimedu has almost been completed.
The queue complexes at Sabaripeedhom and Saramkuthi are ready.
Nilackal parking lots
N. Vasu, Devaswom Commissioner, told The Hindu that two more vehicle parking lots had been set up at Nilackal this year.
Though the High-Power Committee for the implementation of the Sabarimala master plan had envisaged completion of some more parking lots at Nilackal before the start of the pilgrim season, delay in launching the project, coupled with bad weather, has slowed down the work. Mr. Ravikumar said the repair and maintenance of various TDB buildings at Sabarimala and at the base camps of Nilackal, Erumely, and Pandalam had been completed.
TDB sources said as many as 3,500 toilets would be made available at the Sannidhanam, Pampa, and Nilackal
Mr. Ravikumar said the repair and maintenance of three incinerators each at Pampa and Sannidhanam and two at Nilackal, besides that of the sewage treatment plant at Cheriyanavattom, was over.
Lighting work by the Kerala State Electricity Board workers was fast progressing at Nilackal, Pampa, Sannidhanam, and on the trekking path.
The Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sanghom stretcher service headed by Thanchavur Damodaran was gearing up to start operations from its main camp at the Sannidhanam.
Executive Officer K. Sankaranarayana Pillai said the buffer stock of Aravana had crossed 32 lakh tins as on Tuesday. The TDB planned to maintain a buffer stock of 35 lakh cans by the time the temple opened for the pilgrim season. The Public Works Department has completed the repair and maintenance of the buildings that houses various government hospitals at Sabarimala and Pampa.