The hillshrine of Sabarimala is witnessing huge rush prompting the authorities to strictly regulate the flow of devotees and vehicles after one pilgrim was killed and few others injured in a minor stampede yesterday.
A 67-year-old devotee, identified as Narayanaswamy from Manjunath village Andhra Pradesh, died in a hospital last evening after he got shuffled around in the melee caused breaking of the rope used to block the onrush of devotees at the base camp Pampa.
As thousands continued to pour in at the base camp at Pampa, devotees are allowed to go up only in regulated batches to avoid over-crowding atop the hill where the shrine of Lord Ayyappa is located. According to police sources, the movement of vehicles were being regulated from Vadasserikkara, about 50 km from Pampa, as all modes of transport continued to arrive carrying pilgrims,mostly from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Additional forces had been deployed to manage the crowd and vehicle flow, which are expected to increase further in the coming days before the pilgrimage scales to its finale on the Makar Samkranthi on January 14. “The pilgrim flow in the last three days have been quite unprecedented. The pilgrims had to wait 10 to 15 hours to get darshan by going through the holy eighteen steps of the shrine”, a temple official told PTI.
Besides police, security and disaster management forces, voluntary outfits like Akhil Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham have been stepped in to help the pilgrims by keeping up supply of drinking water and snacks.