VISAKHAPATNAM: Despite the tall claims of endowments officials and the police that elaborate arrangements had been made for Chandanotsavam, devotees had a harrowing time Tuesday standing in long queue lines under the blazing sun, without shelter and other basic amenities, to have the ‘nijarupa darshan’ of Lord Nrusimha Swamy.
With the removal of sandal paste finishing earlier than expected, for the first time ever, devotees were allowed to have darshan of the Lord from around 2.35 am itself. However, heavy crowds and mismanagement caused many problems, severely inconveniencing the crowds.
Devotees had been waiting in queues from the early hours of Tuesday, and by 6 am all lines were filled, forcing others to queue up according to the denominations of their tickets.
While the officials made arrangements to hold about 25,000 people in the Gopuram area, thousands of devotees including children and women were forced to wait in queue lines around the temple for several hours. Approximately, 1,75,000 people had turned up for the mega event, out of which 40,000 had to leave without having darshan of the Lord, sources said.
Devasthanam and Endowment officials were blamed for failing miserably in taking necessary measures to cater to the needs of the huge crowds, especially in view of summer, while police officials were accused of giving priority to providing security to VIPs rather than assisting the public.
Though the temple management boasted of erecting barricades to ensure speedy darshan, the queues moved slowly. Not surprisingly, even those who bought Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 tickets stood for over five hours in the queue.
The Devasthanam officials erected barricades and provided necessary amenities only in the Gopuram area, where around 25,000 people can be accommodated. No barricades were erected or shelters provided in the rest of the areas, turning the long wait of devotees in the extended queue lines down the temple into a nightmare.
As more people started joining the free darshan queue, officials made them loop around those waiting in the Rs 100, Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 lines. However, in the absence of barricades, the lines merged, leading to chaos and quarrels among the devotees and with the police.
Women and children suffered a lot standing barefoot for hours. Frustrated devotees exchanged heated words with the authorities and alleged that the transport and parking facilities were inadequate. Even the limited stalls erected by charitable organisations to distribute food and water could not cater to all the devotees.
Many women waiting in the heat fainted in the queues, and the condition of one of them turned serious. However, mobile medical teams rushed in and gave her first-aid.
Heavy Rush Causes Melee
Chaos prevailed near the steps down the Gopuram when devotees in large number shoved each other to join a queue that was fast moving, because of which women and children fell down and were briefly in danger of being trampled. However, a Quick Reaction Team comprising of around 40 policemen prevented a potential disaster by seperating queuelines with ropes. They also lifted a child to safety. However, it took about two-and-half hours for the team to control the crowd.