SABARIMALA: For the first time during the ongoing pilgrimage season, pilgrims were forced to wait for eight hours in the queue for darshan of Lord Ayyappa here on Saturday.The long queue of pilgrims extended up to Marakoottam when the Sreekovil of the temple was opened for darshan at 3 am. Thousands of pilgrims, particularly the elderly folks and children, had a hard time waiting for hours at a stretch. The unprecedented crowd caused hardship for the police personnel in controlling the crowd, especially those between U-Turn and Marakoottam who had no access to drinking water.
However, those pilgrims who were waiting in the Valiyanadapandal were given medicated drinking water by volunteers of Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham and the Travancore Devaswom Board. As per the available information, an estimated two and a half lakh pilgrims offered worship till 6 pm on Saturday.
Heavy crowd of pilgrims was witnessed for neyyabhishekam and the long queue which was seen from 3.30 am continued till 11.30 am. At the prasadam counters, including the ones at Lower Thirumuttom and Malikappuram, the queue of pilgrims was unprecedented and long-winding. At Pampa, thousands of pilgrims thronged the bathing ghat for ‘bali tharpan’.
The Nilackal-Pampa KSRTC chain service collection achieved a record revenue of Rs 37 lakh in 24 hours ending on Friday midnight, a KSRTC official said. A total of 105 low-floor buses, including air-conditioned and non-AC buses, were deployed for the chain service. For the long-destination trips, thrice the number of usual schedules were operated to ferry pilgrims from the shrine.