Amid heavy rush, Kerala imposes cap on pilgrims visiting Sabarimala

Even as the heavy influx of pilgrims to Sabarimala continues, a meeting convened by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday decided to fix a cap on the daily number of visitors to the hill temple during the ongoing season.

President of the Travancore Devaswom Board K.Ananthagopan said the meeting decided to limit the number of virtual queue bookings to 90,000 a day, besides extending the timing of darshan by one more hour.

The meeting also decided to accommodate more vehicles at the Nilackal parking area and provide light refreshments to devotees waiting in queues from Sharamkuthi to the hill top along the path.

“Considering that about 20% of the devotees are children, the meeting also discussed a proposal to open separate queues for kids and elderly women. The Chief Minister has sought a scientific study on this before arriving at a decision,” Mr. Ananthagopan said. An additional batch of 420 policemen would be deployed from Marakkottam to the Sannidhanam to regulate crowd and experienced personnel would be posted on duty at the holy 18 steps to maintain the flow of devotees.

“Further, devotees will be permitted to ascend the steps even after the Ayyappa temple closes for the day at 11.30 p.m. and offer darshan when it reopens the next day morning,” he said.

The influx of devotees continued unabated on Monday. Of the 1.19 lakh bookings for darshan, over 62,000 people visited the temple till 4 p.m.