Security and crowd management measures have been stepped up at Sabarimala and the foothills.
Pampa as devotees continued to pour in with just four days are left for the finale of the pilgrimage of the Lord Ayyappa temple on the ‘Makarasamkranthi’ eve on January 14.
The Government and temple authroties are making hectic preparations to ensure smooth conclusion to the two-month long pilgrimage as the arrival of devotees are expected to go up considerably in the coming days.
Annually, over 30 million pilgrims visit the shrine located on the periphery of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, making it one of world’s biggest pilgrimages.
Most of the devotees visiting the shrine in the final phase of the pilgrimage are from Andra Pradesh,Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Additional Chief Secretary and Co-ordinator for Sabakrimala K Jayakumar and IGP Hemachandran were here the other day to review the preparations.
An additional 450 policemen had been deployed on the uphill ‘Sannidhanam’ alone taking the total size of forces available to nearly 2000, including commandos, taksforce and Distaster Response personnel, source said.
Steps had been taken to strictly check intrusion of devotees through unguarded forest ways to ensure that no person reach the shrine without going through the scanners and detectors installed at main entry points, police sources said. All such ‘inflitration routes’ had been identified and steps taken to plug them with the help of forest guards, sources said.
A sound traffic management plan has also been drawn up to ensure unnecessary clogging of the vital route between Vadassery and Nilakkal, where all the vehicles bringing devotees converge and park.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) would operate additional services to ease the rush of home-bound devotees after the Makaravilakku festival.
So far the pilgrimage had progressed without any hassle but for a minor stempede last week in which one person was killed.
The temple had witnessed an unprecedented onrush of pilgrims last week.