Unending queues, chaos mar darshan at Simhachalam in Andhra Pradesh
However, the festive atmosphere turned chaotic as devotees were made to stand in serpentine queue for hours without adequate amenities in place.
VISAKHAPATNAM: Pilgrims attending the annual Chandanotsavam at Simhachalam faced inconvenience as they were stranded in the queue for several hours for darshan in Visakhapatnam on Sunday.
Despite deploying more than 2,000 police personnel and hundreds of sanitation workers, a lack of coordination among different department officials led to pandemonium at the temple. The annual fete drew a huge crowd as people from various parts of the State started arriving on the hill around midnight.
However, the festive atmosphere turned chaotic as devotees were made to stand in a serpentine queues for hours without adequate amenities in place. The pilgrims frequently picked up arguments with authorities over poor arrangements and hours of delay in the darshan of Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy.
Many pointed out that the special VIP darshans exacerbated the delays, which seemed to take precedence over the regular darshans.
“Despite arriving before time, we waited for over four hours. VIPs, who arrive at their convenience with a large entourage, received special treatment, while the public suffered,” said 55-year-old Annapurna, a devotee. The devotees stranded in the queue for VIP darshan were left dejected as well.
“It is impossible for devotees to step away from the queue for a glass of water. The authorities must streamline the queues and provide basic amenities. If this is the condition of devotees in Rs 1,500 darshan queue, the condition of those in free darshan lines must be even more horrible,” another devotee added.
Meanwhile, a sixty-year-old lost consciousness and experienced seizures while waiting in the queue for several hours. A team of doctors, deployed at the temple for the big day, attended to him.
Although the head of Sarada Peetham, Swaroopanandendra Saraswati Swami, criticised the arrangements and alleged that the rituals in the sanctum sanctorum were violated, several devotees pointed out that he was inside for more than an hour, which led to disruption in their darshan.
It is to be noted that several district officers, including the Mayor, Joint Collector, Anakapalle MP Satyavathi, and other officials of the commissioner cadre, had to wait in queue for hours and were denied darshan according to their respective time slots.
The overcrowding triggered tension on the hillside. Buses struggled to transport devotees uphill due to traffic congestion. Devotees slammed ministers for creating a traffic jam on the way to the hilltop as each of them arrived in 10-15 vehicles.