Friday, December 29, 2017
Tirumala, the holy shrine of Sri Lord Venkateswara Swamy today witnessed unprecedented crowd on the eve of Vaikunta Ekadasi.
The darshan lines spilled out of the sprawling Narayanagiri Gardens and stretched beyond three km, circumnavigating the thoroughfares of the hill town and extended on to the Outer Ring Road even before the fall of night.
The TTD management was under severe attack for the shortage in the supply of food and drinking water. Devotees hurled abuses at the officers as they passed by. Several devotees reportedly took ill after having spent their night in the open queue lines braving the bone-biting cold. The inordinate delay in the commencement of darshan, coupled with the allocation of more darshan hours to VIPs, has put the pilgrim fraternity on the boil. Devotees vacating their cottages at extreme locations had a tough time in hiring cabs, as all the taxies were kept off the road including free bus services.
The priests opened the heavenly ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ at the pre-designated muhurtham in the presence of both the pontiffs and authorities after the completion of the mandatory rituals. Meanwhile, the VIPs were allowed for darshan as early at 4.45am followed by the ordinary devotees at 8am.
Rush higher than last year:: The TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal in a damage control mode today ordered the purchase of 5,000 blankets on a war-footing owing to the unprecedented crowd. They would be distributed to the waiting devotees in the open queue lines to protect them from biting cold. He said that the turnout of pilgrims was higher by 40,000 than last year.
He admitted that certain lapses took place and the condition was being closely monitored and additional staff members had been pressed into service to meet the requirements of the devotees.