VISAKHAPATNAM: The officials of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Nrusimha Swamy temple at Simhachalam, promised top priority to ordinary devotees for the ‘Nijarupa Darshan’ of the Lord on the occasion of Chandanotsavam commencing Monday midnight.
Responding to the criticism that ordinary devotees are forced to wait in serpentine queues for several hours to make way for VIP and protocol darshans, HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao assured that adequate measures have been taken to ensure that devotees are not put to any discomfort due to VIPs. “We made all the necessary arrangements to ensure that even as VIPs have their darshan, the general queue will keep moving throughout the day,” he said.
The minister, who inspected the arrangements at Simhachalam Monday, said that over 1 lakh devotees are expected to turn up this year as against about 1.1 lakh last year. Officials said that the capacity of four queue lines has been increased from 16,000 to 20,000 each. Water for devotees, milk and biscuits to children in the queuelines will be distributed for free. About 40 voluntary organisations are setting up stalls for the event.
As per the tradition, the removal of the existing sandalwood paste with silver spoons would begin at midnight. Hereditary trustee Pusapati Ananda Gajapati Raju and his family will offer silk vastrams to the deity and has the first darshan in the small hours of Tuesday. The devotees will be allowed into the queuelines Monday night itself, with the darshan for ordinary devotees beginning at around 4.30 am Tuesday. Officials said that there would be no darshan after 7 pm, as the first stage of sandalwood paste application on the deity would begin.
City police commissioner Amit Garg said that about 1,500 police personnel upto the rank of DCP have been deployed to handle security and traffic. Surveillance cameras have been installed at important places including parking places, and higher officials will monitor the activities from a special control room set up at the venue along with two police outposts. Fire tenders and mobile medical teams along with sniffer dogs will be deployed. A special counter with a public addressing system would be installed for handling missing cases.
Battery operated vehicles have been arranged by the temple authorities for the benefit of physically challenged persons. Officials have made it clear that special RTC buses will be operated from the foothill to the temple and no vehicles except that of VIPs will be allowed atop Simhachalam. Parking lots have been arranged at the foothill. Vehicles with VIP passes should park on the ghat road behind Yatri Nivas, while policemen on two-wheelers must park on the road leading towards the repeater station. Temple staff, priests and media parking is arranged on the road leading to the water tank. Police using four-wheelers should park in the vacant place adjacent to the RTC bus stand.
The police commissioner urged devotees to maintain discipline and cooperate with the police.