For the first time, after nearly three decades, the temple town of Lord Venkateswara on Tuesday remained isolated from the rest of the world.
Traffic on both the ghat roads came to a standstill with the anti-Telangana protesters enforcing a total bandh since morning. With the APSRTC buses going off the road and the agitators reluctant to allow private vehicles, including the two-wheelers, the hill town remained totally inaccessible throughout the day.
The bandh was complete with the organisers not permitting even the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) management to run its own fleet of vehicles between Tirumala and Tirupati.
Devotees were left with no other option but to trek along the tedious foot path to reach the hill town.
Life remained normal at Tirumala. There was no impact of the bandh on the pilgrim activity. Surprisingly, waiting compartments in the massive queue complex buzzed with pilgrims. Over 17,000 pilgrims reached the town along the footpaths and availed themselves of Divya darshan tokens.
More than 40,000 pilgrims, who were aware of the bandh, left for Tirupati on Monday night to avoid inconvenience. The TTD relaxed the ghat road restriction and permitted vehicles to Tirupati all through the night. Usually, both ghat roads remain closed between 12.00 a.m. and 3.00 a.m.
The TTD as a goodwill gesture relaxed penalty on devotees who stayed back beyond 48 hours at its cottages and guest houses.
The management geared up its staff and ensured supply of free food packets, water, buttermilk and coffee at Tirumala and Tirupati including at pilgrim amenities complexes and APSRTC bus stations and the railway station.
Expressing satisfaction over the initiatives taken up by the management, Chief Security and Vigilance Officer GVG Ashok Kumar told The Hindu that the inconveniences to the visiting pilgrims were minimised to a large extent.