The agitation against the division of Andhra Pradesh has hit the richest temple in the country — that of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirupati.
Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) employees, who have joined the strike call given by the government employees of the Seemandhra region from Monday night, have stopped bus service to the temple town.
Before the trouble started, on average more than 1,000 bus trips took place between Tirupati and Tirumala (shrine on a hill 20 km from Tirupati), ferrying 50,000 pilgrims daily. The numbers swelled during weekends and special occasions.
The sarva-darshan, for which one had to wait up to 36 hours, took place within two hours on Tuesday.
Officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the temple’s governing board, said the service had stopped for the first time since it began four decades ago.
Most of the 10,000 regular employees of the TTD have also joined the strike.
CM Kiran Reddy has ordered an immediate resolution of the problem, following which officials held talks with the unions. Services are expected to resume, though partially, on Wednesday.