Almost a couple of weeks into the mandalam season, pilgrims have started thronging the sacred hills.
The first evident change is at Pampa. The toll to park the vehicles is no longer there. Once at Pampa, beware of the Pickpockets. There are quite a lot of pickpocket incidents over the past few days. Please don’t leave your baggage unattended.
Aravana and Appam
Considering the long queues for Aravana and Appam at the sannidhaanam, the Devasom board, in collaboration with Dhanalakshmi bank has arranged for counters at Pampa Ganapathy temple itself. It is advisable to get the tokens well in advance itself.
Roads & wayside shops
During the ascent to the hillock, one easily noticeable fact is that the wayside shops have all been removed and the roads have been widened. The roads have been improved too.
There are a few nadapandals that have been erected on the way for the benefit of the pilgrims. This serves as a shelter during the rains.
Online Queue Booking
The Devasom board has brought the new concept of online queue bookings this season. It is best advised that the pilgrims avail this facility through the below link.
Sabarimala Ayyappa Darshanam Booking Link
For the devotees who have booked the Darshan online, you will be diverted through Marakootam. There is no wait period for this particular queue and can join the normal queue at the Sannidhaanam. The normal queue passes through Sharamkutti and this is very crowded. On a peak day, there is a wait of 3 – 4 hours in this queue.
Every year, the pilgrims who reach Sabarimala utilize the services of ‘Viri’(small hut like resting place) to rest their tired legs and to protect themselves from the rain. Unfortunately, this year all the Viri have been removed by the Devasom board. Because of this, thousands of pilgrims including small kids and elderly people have been left stranded. It has been raining at Sannidhaanam over the past few days and the pilgrims have been in a pathetic state. There was no place to seek shelter. Considering the number of pilgrims visiting the place, it is the responsibility of the Devasom board to provide the necessary facilities. One wouldn’t seek a 5 star accommodation there but a basic shelter is a dire necessity.
Apart from this, most of the eatery joints have been removed. The available shops have been shifted to a new location. Ignorant of this, most of the devotees stay hungry since there are not many direction boards around to guide them.
Bailey Bridge & Exit
Another change is the new Bailey bridge that has been created to control the rush during peak season.
On the whole, a quick synopsis of what to do for the prospective pilgrims
1) Book online Darshan well in advance
2) Beware of pickpockets
3) For online Darshan, the diversion is from Marakootam. There is no signboard for the same. Ensure that you don’t miss this, else you will have to join the normal queue.
4) There is no accomodation facility at the Sannidhaanam. Hence come prepared for the same.
5) In case you don’t find the hotels, as for same to the police there. They are very helpful.