Surge in pilgrim numbers, so is revenue
1.66 lakh pilgrims visit Sabarimala till Monday afternoon, income is ₹14 cr.
With the easing of pandemic-related restrictions and increase in daily slots for darshan, pilgrim footfall at Sabarimala has recorded a sharp surge with a corresponding growth in revenue collection.
As per estimates, 1.66 lakh pilgrims visited the temple till Monday afternoon while the income stood around ₹14 crore. The total bookings under the virtual queue system till Sunday was 2.31 lakh.
According to Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) officials, the sale of Appam and Aravana and the collections through donation boxes accounted for the majority of revenue. The plan to lease out the remaining stalls at the Sannidhanam too witnessed an improved response with the rise in pilgrim flow. The overall income during the two-month season last year, which was severely scaled back due to COVID-19, was just ₹21 crore
“Of the 216 stalls, 101 have been auctioned off, although at much lesser rates. A decision on auctioning off the remaining stalls will be made during the next meeting of the board,” says an official. The delay in leasing out the stalls had also affected devotees, with much lesser options for food and other necessary facilities.
The TDB expects the revenue to make a quantum jump once the Government permits overnight stay at the Sannidhanam considering the physical hardship involved in forcing pilgrims to trek up and down the hillock within a few hours. As per official estimates, the hilltop has the space to accommodate about 17,000 persons at a given point of time, which also includes 500 rooms on rent.
“All eyes are now on the next meeting of the Government’s high-level committee. The board, however, is already going ahead with restoration of the rooms and the Neelimala-Marakkottam path in anticipation of Government nod,” says the official.