The Godavari Maha Pushkaralu, the once in 144-years event to worship the river commenced on a religious note in five districts of Telangana through which the mighty river flows.
Decked up for the grand event, Pushkar Ghats in Nizamabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam districts were teeming with devotees rushing into the river to take the holy bath.
There was some water at Pushkar Ghats at Dharmapuri (Karimnagar district), Ramannagudem (Warangal) after authorities released water from Sriramsagar and Kadem projects.
Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao along with his family members took the holy dip along with Pithadithipatis of several Mutts in temple town of Dharmapuri in Karimnagar district. Religious heads took out a Shoba Yatra from the temple to the Pushkar Ghat in Dharmapuri. Later, he left for Bhadrachalam to participate in the mega event.
The river fete commenced in Bhadrachalam with Seer Chinna Jeeyar Swamy formally taking a dip in Godavari. He performed Chakrasnanam and offered prayers to the statue of goddess Godavari on the banks of the river. He was accompanied by Minister T. Harish Rao and Telangana BJP state president G. Kishan Reddy and others.
There was mild commotion when devotees tried to enter the bathing ghat enmasse. Police struggled to control them and in the process some devotees fell down. No injuries or untoward incident was reported. Tight security was in place and the pilgrims faced hardships due to stoppage of private vehicles at the designated parking lot in Sarapaka near Bhadrachalam.
At the temple town of Basar in Adilabad district, Pushkaralu commenced with religious fervour. Minister Jogu Ramanna took the holy dip in the river. Actor Suman and others also took the bath and offered prayers to the river Godavari. The rush of devotees began to increase as the day passed by. Police regulated traffic as one-way traffic was imposed on the Nizamabad-Basar Road leading to the Gnana Saraswati Temple.
At Pochampad in Nizamabad, Agriculture Minister P.Srinivas Reddy and Nizamabad MP K. Kavitha offered prayers at the river Godavari abutting Sriramsagar Project.
In Warangal, the much-awaited event began on a traditional note with people offering special prayers before taking a holy dip. Deputy Chief Minister Kadiyam Srihari formally launched the Pushkaralu at Mangapet bathing ghats. He also took a holy dip.
Small crowds mostly locals made a beeline to bathing ghats at Mangapet and Ramannagudem. Elaborate arrangements were made by the district administration. Over 500 santation workers, 70 doctors, 2,000 police personnel were drafted for the duties.
However people faced difficulty in reaching bathing ghats as the vehicles were stopped beyond one kilometre from ghats.
There were no visitors at Mullakatta bathing ghats as there was no water in river Godavari there. The celebrations are going at slow and steady pace without much euphoria in Warangal district. As the ghats are located in remote corners of the district, Collector Vakati Karuna and rural superintendent of police A.K.Jha are camping at Eturunagaram for past two days for smooth conduct of the event.
(Reporting by S.Harpal Singh (Basar), P.Ram Mohan (Pochampad), K.M.Dayashankar (Dharmapuri), Gollapudi Srinivasa Rao (Ramannagudem) & P.Sridhar (Bhadrachalam)