THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With just a week more to go for Attukal Bhagavathy Temple festival, Minister for Tourism, Devaswom and Cooperation Kadakampally Surendran on Wednesday presented a Rs 10 crore proposal to construct a few infrastructure amenities at the shrine.
The major proposal includes a multi-storeyed building that will house a large kitchen, a hall to serve food to 1,250 people in a single sitting and a rest area that will be able to accommodate 876 pilgrims. The building alone has been allocated Rs 6.9 crore.
Surendran, who is also the minister for the district, said the other infrastructure facilities included in the proposal are facilities for parking, widening of the roads that lead to the temple, bridges and walkways. As per the proposal, the bund road will be widened, the existing iron bridge will be widened and spruced up. Two new bridges made of steel and having fibre cover will be constructed.
Another proposal to ease the movement of the pilgrims at the temple venue is the construction of walkways. Six-metre wide walkways will help in the speedy evacuation of pilgrims during an emergency. Bus bays and water kiosks are part of the amenities that were proposed during the presentation. The minister sought the support of the Temple Trust since most of the facilities are to be built on the temple land.
Hurdles on the path
A lot of hurdles will have to be overcome before the proposal can be executed, said the people who are associated with the development of the temple. The proposal needs the nod of the Trust which is an 83-member body. The temple festival begins on February 22 and culminates with the famous Attukal pongala. Trust representatives told the minister they can convene the governing board meet only by March 10.
“We welcome the government’s proposals. But the Trust members have to study it properly before giving the approval,” said chairman of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple Trust R Raveendran Nair.
According to the trust members, a proper sewerage system is of the utmost importance than any other infrastructure facilities. “There is an urgent need to fix the sewerage system since we are struggling to provide proper toilet facilities to lakhs of women who come to attend the festival,” said a Trust member.
He said the government should extend the sewerage line from
Sastha temple to address the issue. The Attukal township project was conceived nearly a decade back with an aim to provide better amenities for the devotees and the development of the temple neighbourhood. After keeping the project on the backburner for years, the government tasked SIDCO with the preparation of the master plan. SIDCO submitted its proposals to TRIDA in 2016. The government had earmarked Rs 100 crore in the revised budget for 2016-17 to undertake the basic infrastructure works connected to Attukal township project.
Recommending a three-pronged approach to development, the master plan includes a proposal for the make-over of 50 acres of land next to the temple as a pilgrim sub-centre with parking areas, shopping complex, fire station and medical centre. Development of roads leading to the temple forms a major component of the master plan.
Attukal pongala festival from February 22
This year’s pongala festival at the Attukal Bhagavathi Temple will be held from February 22 to March 3. The famed Pongala offering will be made on March 2. The ‘kappuketti kudiyiruthu’ ceremony will be held on February 22. The kuthiyottam and purathezhunelippu will be held on March 2, after the pongala offering. Curtains will fall on the ten-day festivities with the kuruthitharpanam at 12.30 am on March 4. Various cultural programmes are planned on all ten days of the festival. Classical dance recitals and Carnatic music concerts are part of the cultural events planned as part of the festivities this year. Traditional art forms like theyyam, kavadi, mayooranritham, arjunanritham, parichamuttukali and panchavadyam also will be staged. The annual Attukal pongala is renowned for its mass participation by women which has gained it an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.