Staff Reporter

ERODE: Joint Executive Officer of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) N. Srikanth said online darshan ticket counters would be opened at Srirangam, Coimbatore, Madurai and Tirunelveli. This is in addition to the counters presently functioning in Chennai, Erode, Vellore, Salem and Rajapalayam. Basic arrangements for opening the counters would be completed within a couple of months.

Mr. Srikanth told reporters that there was encouraging response to the sale of such tickets. Out of about 7,500 online tickets priced at Rs. 50 for Sudarshan Darshan, over 200 tickets are sold in Erode alone. Similarly, over 1,500 are sold at other centres.

"At present in Tirumala, the TTD has buildings to accommodate over 6,000 pilgrims a day. Following heavy rush additional rooms to accommodate 1,000 more pilgrims will be constructed and the work will be completed before 2009,'' Mr. Srikanth said.

On the conduct of Thiru Kalaya Utsavam in rural areas by the Devasthanams, he said: "If people wanted to conduct it, the TTD is ready to arrange the Utsavam."

He also said investigation was in progress in the case of missing jewels. All security arrangements in and around the temple had been strengthened.

Sri Vari Seva Trust managing trustee R. Umapathy said the trust had decided to construct a Mandapam in Erode to conduct atavism for Lord Venkateswara and an online counter would also be opened in the Mandapam.

Mr. Umapathy said a minimum of 200 devotees from Erode were visiting Tirupati every day. He appealed to the Andhra Pradesh State Transport Corporation and also Andhra Pradesh tourism department to operate more buses from the trust office to Tirumala. He said already representations had been made with the Railway Ministry to operate a daily train service either from Coimbatore or from Erode to Tirupati. TTD liaison officer Haridev Prasad, Trust secretary R. Mohanraj and others were also present.

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