The Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala opened for the two-month-long annual pilgrimage season on Sunday evening. The new head priest took charge on the opening day but pilgrims will be allowed to trek to the hilltop shrine from 16th morning.
There are many restrictions in place for pilgrims in view of Covid-19. Only 1000 pilgrims will be allowed to trek to the shrine in a day and they will have to carry a Covid-19-free certificate, obtained not more than 24 hours before reaching the base camp at Pamba. The health department has opened many kiosks for carrying out antigen tests on the way to Pamba, said the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) which manages the temple.
Pilgrims will also not be allowed to stay at the hilltop and bath in holy river Pamba, said the TDB officials.
Masks are not mandatory for trekking. Earlier, doctors had warned that during the steep trekking, masks will create breathing problems for devotees. Devotees, however, have been asked to maintain strict social distancing during trekking.