SABARIMALA: Pandalam Valiyakoickal Sree Dharma Sastha temple, one of the important pilgrim transit camps in the state where thousands of pilgrims offer worship as part of the annual Sabarimala pilgrimage, remains the same for the pilgrims even after two decades if the basic facilities are any yardstick.
Inadequate parking facilities, insufficient resting place, lack of purified drinking water, inadequate free food, insufficient toilets and bathrooms are causing serious hardships for the thousands of pilgrims who come for worship at the temple.
For an average 300 to 500 pilgrim vehicle arrivals a day, parking on both sides of the busy MC Road is the only solution as the ground offered by the Travancore Devaswom Board for the purpose could accommadate only 50 to 60 vehicles at a time.
Private parking areas are far away from the temple, forcing the pilgrim vehicles to park on the road sides causing traffic bottlenecks during the peak season days.
Though the temple advisory committee and voluntary organisations like the Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham and the Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam raised the serious issue before the Travancore
Devaswom Board and the government authorities at the review meetings on pilgrimage preparations during the past several years, no follow-up action has been taken yet.
Lack of adequate resting place at the transit camp is a serious issue facing the hapless pilgrims, forcing them to use the open ground near the temple and on the side of bylane to the temple.
The only building styled as auditorium-cum-resting place could accommodate only 500 pilgrims at a time. Absence of private dormitories and lodges near the transit camp is a big problem for the pilgrims, especially those coming from other states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.