GUNTUR: The rush of pilgrims at the Pushkar ghats for taking a holy dip as part of the Krishna Pushkarams reached the peak on Sunday. It was massive gatherings of pilgrims at the bathing ghats in Krishna, Guntur and Kurnool districts on the third day of the ongoing Krishna Puhskaralu as it was auspicious Ekadasi and also Sunday.
The Amaravati and Dharanikota Pushkar ghat resembled a sea of humanity with pilgrims surging for the holy dip since the wee hours of the day. The Guntur Rural police said that about 9 lakh devotees had taken the dip in Krishna River across the district, while about 3 lakh people attended the river fete at Amaravati ghat alone. Similarly, the Seethanagaram ghat located under the jurisdiction of Guntur Urban Police witnessed about one lakh pilgrims.
By noon itself, the figures pertaining to pilgrim rush had crossed the cumulative figure of the first two days. On Sunday all roads let to pushkar ghats in Vijayawada, Amaravati, Srisailam and others. Several VIPs including Union Minister of HRD Prakash Javadekar along with state HRD minister Ganta Srinivas Rao and Rajya Sabha member CM Ramesh had holy dip in the river at Punnami Ghat.
In early hours of the day, Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati bathed in the river Krishna along with his disciples and followers at Durga Ghat.
By 9 a.m. the 4,50,962 pilgrims had bathed in Krishna River at Pushkar Ghats in Vijayawada alone, which is almost the total number of pilgrims who had Pushkar bath in the state as a whole on first day. At 6 pm, total number of pilgrims attending Krishna Pushkaralu in the state was 24,81,761 people.
Those coming from Hyderabad direction choose to bathe in any available pushkar ghat from Uttaravahini, Muktyala to Sangamam Ghat. With heavy traffic inflow from Hyderabad to Vijayawada, officials concerned were asked to regulate the traffic and ensure it is cleared at the earliest.
APSRTC buses ferrying pilgrims from satellite bus and railway stations, pushkar nagars to pushkar ghats were full and proved insufficient to handle the massive pilgrim inflow. Pilgrims, who turned up at Vijayawada in lakhs on Sunday were put to inconvenience. With only APSRTC buses being allowed near the ghats and autorickshaws charging Rs 100 per km, only to be left a kilometer or two from the ghat, majority of the pilgrims choose to walk to the ghats.
The situation was particularly hard on the elderly and infirm and when the situation was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu during media briefing in the afternoon, he directed officials to arranged for separate buses for the elderly to move them quickly to the ghats. The chief minister looked visibly happy over the such a large pilgrim turnout and said his government efforts to facilitate better ‘Pushkar bath’ at various ghats has yielded results.
The Pushkar nagars were overcrowded and as as result sanitation suffered, though workers were engaged in large number. There was not enough space for sanitation workers to move around and clear the garbage littered on the ground, particularly at food distribution points. Railway station was equally overcrowded
The pilgrim rush at Goddess Kanaka Durga Temple set a new record, with 1.3 lakh people having darshan of the presiding deity by 5 p.m. itself. Never in the history of the temple it happened. The recent structural modifications made to the temple had helped in regulating the devotees rush.
In Guntur district, Amaravati, Seethanagaram and other ghats had witnessed a mammoth turnout. People had to faced some difficulty in reaching Amaravati ghat given the restrictions on the movement of vehicles. Several people had volunteered to distribute food to the pilgrims. In Kurnool too, the pilgrim rush was more, particularly at Patala Ganga and Sangameswara ghats.
All the temples in the three districts had increased influx of the devotees and the authorities had their hands full in ensuring there are not untoward incidents. The rush is expected to continue on Monday, the Independence Day.
Pilgrims turnout on third Day (till 6 pm)
Total Turnout - 24,81,761
Vijayawada - 10,37,196
Krishna Rural - 2,35,185
Guntur Urban - 1,42,196
Guntur Rural - 9,68,403
Kurnool - 98,781
Devotee rush at Goddess Kanaka Durga Temple - 1,30,000