It was a sea of humanity as lakhs of devotees converged on the temple of Lord Venkateswara here on Saturday on the occasion of the auspicious ‘Garuda Seva’, a ritual performed as part of the annual Brahmotsavams.
As expected, the crowds swelled as the festival coincided with the second Saturday of Tamil ‘Peratasi’ month.
The pilgrim influx was so huge that all the four mada streets through which the procession was to pass were packed to capacity by afternoon.
Fearing lack of space, thousands of devotees preferred to stay put after the procession of ‘Mohini Avataram’ in the morning.
As per estimates, more than 2.50 lakh pilgrims gathered along the mada streets by evening.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Chairman Y.V. Subba Reddy and Executive Officer A.V. Dharma Reddy personally supervised the arrangements and ensured an uninterrupted supply of food and drinking water. They interacted with the devout and were elated when they were appreciated for the arrangements made.
Curbs on private vehicles
With there being no let-up in the surging crowds, private vehicles were barred from motoring up the town since afternoon.
Private cars and vans were not allowed to pass through the Alipiri toll plaza in Tirupati, the gateway to Tirumala, and pilgrims were asked to park their vehicles at locations specially earmarked for the purpose in the vicinity of toll plaza and take public transport to reach Tirumala.
The TTD had already banned the plying of two wheelers on the ghat roads for 48 hours since Friday afternoon.
On the other hand, both the footpaths registered a steady flow of trekking devotees since the break of dawn, and the footfalls according to reports crossed 45,000 by late evening.
Meanwhile, the restrictions imposed on the movement of pilgrims as well as the vehicular traffic on the pretext of security and regulation of traffic drew flak.
All the thoroughfares were blocked since afternoon and devotees were forced to walk long distances to reach the mada streets as they were directed from one point to another.
Speaking to the media, Mr. Subba Reddy said the idea of allowing the devotees into galleries in advance proved worthy as it facilitated in accommodating 50,000 pilgrims additionally.
With an intention to keep devotees engaged, cultural troupes enthralled them with their performances.