Thousands of pilgrims who descend upon the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala would be able to avoid waiting for hours to view the deity this year, thanks to a “virtual queue” the police have introduced.
From November 1, people can register online for ‘darshan’ during the two-month pilgrimage season, which begins on November 17. The Kerala police have introduced the measure a year after a stampede at Pulmedu near Sabarimala claimed 102 lives.
Pilgrims who register online will have to reach the shrine at the time allotted to them, carrying their booking number and identity proof.
They will stand in a separate queue, bypassing the long queue along the Valiya Nadappanthal trekking path.
“During peak season, pilgrims have to stand for up to 14 hours in queues,” said state temple affairs minister VS Shivakumar. “We are sure the online system will help reduce the waiting period drastically.”
Booking slots to visit the shrine, located in the Western Ghats in Pathanamthitta district, will initially be possible on the Kerala Police website.
The process will later be handed over to the Travancore Devaswom Board that manages the temple’s affairs, officials said.
The state’s additional director general of police P Chandrasekharan said the online registration is being launched on an experimental basis. After gauging the success of the virtual queue, the state government will give wide publicity to encourage pilgrims to take the e-route.