- Darshan, who is already returning 20 km without a darshan ticket, is forbidden to sit on the roadside pavement in Tirumala
- Booking is being done on TT-1 basis at the Passenger Facilitation Centers of TTD, getting room for 24 hours only, 90% hotel, lodge closed
- Kovid-19 test compulsory on arrival at Tirupati airport, three IAS officers join temple management
Jul 01, 2020, 05:53 AM IST
Tirumala-Tirupati. It is half past five in the morning. PS Sudhir from Kadapa along with his wife and son are engaged in the line of break (VIP) darshan for the donors of Srivari Trust. He used to visit every month before. But, could not come here for the last three months. Recently he donated more than 10 thousand rupees to Srivari Trust. So he got the option to see the break without any problems.
Being a ticket to break darshan, he also got room to stay for one night in Tirumala. Sudhir is one of the 12,000 devotees who visited the temple on Monday, who saw Venkatesh Balaji.
Not a single corona patient in Tirumala hill
Darshan was opened to the general devotees from June 11, after a trial of darshan conducted with more than 6 thousand trust employees and locals every day from 8 to 10 June. After this the number increased every day. By the end of June this number has increased to 12 thousand. The special thing is that the Tirumala hill, where the temple of Venkatesh Balaji is, there is not a single patient of Corona and it is a green zone.
According to Dharma Reddy of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Trust (TTD), one can come forward from Tirupati's Alipiri Toll Gate about 20 km before coming to Tirumala only if he has a special booked book online for a special darshan, Sarvadarshanam.
Tickets being issued on time slot basis
During the thermal scanning at the toll gate, if any devotees are found to have symptoms then they are stopped there. Devotees staying at TTD guest house have to vacate the room in 24 hours. Rooms here are being booked on an aud-even basis so that they can be properly sanitized.
Tickets are also being issued on the basis of time slots so that the devotee can return immediately after visiting at the scheduled time. No one is allowed to stay in Tirumala and even sit on the roadside pavement. Apart from the main temple, other temples including Varahi of the complex are closed, bathing in Pushkarni lake is prohibited.
Darshan is not possible due to crowd
Apart from a few stalls of tea, coffee, restaurants, food and drink shops are closed all over Tirumala. After having a special darshan of the afternoon, P. Vijaya of Hyderabad said that she has been coming here for the last 15 years. Definitely comes here once a year. Vijaya said that it was very easy for him to visit this time. He appeared in just 20 minutes.
Arun Iyer, who came from Chittoor, says he had entered the Vaikuntham complex at around 12 noon with a ticket to Sarvadarshan, and had just come out after darshan at half past one. Arun says, it seemed as if VIP appeared, neither pushed, nor waited, where even one to two seconds could not be seen before, today, Balaji got a chance to see 10-15 seconds. He suggests that TTD should adopt this system forever.
Neelima, who came with him, says, there is a fear of corona, that is why travelers are wearing masks and walking far and wide. We also came with courage. Now even if something happens, there is satisfaction in the mind that we have seen Balaji. We are being very careful and the rest Balaji will take care.
At least 50 archakas (priests) are present in the service-worship of the temple on normal days. However, these days only 15 archak stay between morning and half to three o'clock in the morning from morning to quarter of one o'clock at night.
Cases of infection increasing in Tirupati city
However, the situation in Tirupati city is completely different. Like other parts of the country, corona infection is on the rise here. In 36 out of 50 wards of Tirupati, a Containment Zone has been formed. So far, 231 people have been infected in this city with a population of about three and a half lakhs. On 8 June, the number of patients in Tirupati was just 22, which increased 10-fold in 22 days (30 June). Ms T Bharti of Ruia Hospital, Tirupati said that out of these locals are less than 30, most of the patients are from areas outside Tirupati.
90 percent hotels and guest houses closed
There are more than 800 small and big hotels, lodges and guest houses in Tirupati but more than 90 percent are closed due to being in the Containment Zone. There are about 3 thousand taxis in Tirupati, most of which have stopped business. A senior journalist from Tirupati, A Rangarajan, says that when visiting Tirupati, travelers preferred to visit the Golden Temple and Kalahasti in Vellore along with Tirumala. However, due to no traffic concession at this time, they are only coming from their Tirumala vehicles and returning directly without going anywhere.
Nobody even wants to stay in a hotel or lodge for fear of infection. People spend time eating salty, biscuits or fruits off packets but are afraid to go to restaurants that are open. Rangarajan says that the Srivari temple at Tirumala is the only temple in the country that is managed by three senior IAS officers (one of whom is chief secretary level). The temple also has sufficient funds and a staff of staff. This is the reason that travelers are getting a chance to visit here.
Dharmareddy said that opening the darshan in Corona's growing transition is extremely risky but TTD has taken it as a challenge. Everything is still under control in Tirumala by the grace of God.
If the conditions are fine then more tickets will be issued
TTD on Monday released the Darshan ticket quota in July. Now 9000 tickets of special darshan (300 rupees) and 3000 tickets of Sarvadarshanam (free darshan) are being issued every day. TTD is also considering that if the conditions are good then from 4 to 5 thousand tickets will be issued for Sarvadarshanam in the next 10 days.
Due to the sealing of boundaries of all the neighboring states, more than 90 percent of the devotees who reach Tirupati are from different districts of Andhra Pradesh. However, pilgrims are also coming to Tirupati by flying from neighboring states and remote cities by private vehicles.
The corona test of passengers arriving at Tirupati Airport is a must. Or they are allowed to bribe into the city only when fresh corona-negative reports are shown. Random tests of 200 people are being conducted among the pilgrims coming to Tirupati. However, the TTD administration has not made it public what the results of this report are.