Just three days into the two-month-long pilgrimage season, the Ayyappa temple of Sabarimala has been witnessing heavy rush making it a tough task for the police and other agencies to manage the crowd and traffic.
Since the dawn of the auspicious month of Vrishchikam of the Malayalam calendar on Wednesday, devotees in thousands have been flocking to the hillshrine outstripping the rush in the initial days of the 'Mandala' season in previous years, temple officials said.
The pilgrims, mostly from different southern states, had begun to trek to the temple atop the Sabarihill from the base camp on the banks of the river Pampa since the evening of November 16, when the temple portals were opened for the season.
Though over 1500 police personnel have been deployed for the opening phase, the highflow of pilgrims has made the force presence insufficient.
According to police sources, the situation would be reviewed at the earliest and more forces would be requisitioned to cope up with unexpected onrush in the first week of the pilgrimage itself.
Similarly, the heavy rush also upset the plans of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation, which runs the long distance bus services as well as the chain services between Pampa and main parking ground Nilakkal, where private vehicles are stopped.
The first flow of home-bound pilgrims proved the number of buses put into service inadequate. Transport Minister Jose Thettayil has instructed KSRTC authorities to immediately make available at least 100 buses to ease rush and aviod home-bound devotees getting stuck at Pampa.
Despite the unexpected flow of devotees, distribution of prasadams--appam and aravana--had gone on smoothly as foolproof arrangements had been made for uninterrupted supply well in advance,temple officials said.
Temple affairs minister Ramachandran Kadannapally and senior officials of Trvancore Devaswom Board (TDB) had been present at the hillshrine to oversee the arrangements on the opening days.