Landslides hit hills in Tirumala, 20 pilgrimshave narrow escape

This is the second time in less than two weeks that the ghat road was closed for traffic due to landslides caused by heavy rains that lashed the temple town, along with several parts of the south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts, which are still reeling under the impact of the depression in the Bay of Bengal
A major accident was averted as the driver stopped the bus on time. (PTI)
A major accident was averted as the driver stopped the bus on time. (PTI)
Published on Dec 02, 2021 12:51 AM IST
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By, Hyderabad

Around 20 pilgrims travelling in a state-run bus to the hill shrine of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirumala escaped uninjured after the bus driver noticed boulders rolling down the ghat road due to rain-triggered landslides in the early hours of Wednesday, Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) chairman Y V Subba Reddy said.

Reddy said the incident occurred at around 5.45 am when a series of landslides on the Tirumala hills resulted in huge boulders falling on the second ghat (for the upward journey of pilgrims from Tirupati to Tirumala) at four locations. He said the landslides were the result of recent torrential rains in the temple town and the Tirumala hills, after a gap of nearly 30 years. The retainer walls were broken and the ghat road caved in under the impact of the huge boulders falling on it.

“A major accident was averted as the RTC driver stopped the bus on time. There were no injuries to anybody due to the blessings of Lord Venkateswara,” Reddy told reporters.

He said the boulders caused huge damage to the road at five to six places and its protection railings at a height of 1,000 feet and 800 feet respectively on the 20 km long extremely curled serpentine road, forcing the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam authorities to close the road for vehicular traffic.

This is the second time in less than two weeks that the ghat road was closed for traffic due to landslides caused by heavy rains that lashed the temple town, along with several parts of the south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts, which are still reeling under the impact of the depression in the Bay of Bengal.

The TTD chairman, along with the senior officials rushed to the spot to inspect the damaged road.

“The TTD authorities and the police swung into action and sealed the road completely. There are no landslides on the first ghat road (bringing pilgrims from Tirumala down the hill). We are allowing the upward traffic also on the same route,” Reddy added.

“While the vigilance and police officials have removed the rocks and other debris, the engineering department authorities have been pressed into service to study the situation. A team of experts from IIT Madras have inspected the road and another expert team from IIT Delhi will also inspect the site on Thursday morning to assess the extent of damage,” Reddy said, adding that it might take two to three days to restore the normalcy on the damaged ghat road.

In the third week of November, too, Tirumala and Tirupati witnessed unprecedented heavy rains, and both the ghat roads were closed for a day due to landslides from the hills. The temple premises and its surroundings were submerged in water for nearly two days. The traffic was restored gradually, as the rains subsided.

Reddy appealed to all the devotees who booked their darshan tickets to defer their travel plans to avoid inconvenience. He said all of them would be given options to use the tickets within six months.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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