Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam’s expectations that the pilgrim rush would swell its coffers to the brim during the river Krishna pushkarams have gone haywire, thanks to traffic restrictions.
The temple authorities expected 20 lakhs pilgrims would throng Indrakeeladri, the abode of goddess Kanaka Durga. But pilgrim turnout since August 12 indicates the rush is not on the expected lines.
“The traffic restrictions have badly impacted the State government’s plans to give a boost to temple tourism during the festival. The restrictions also made a dent into expectations of Devasthanam,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity. Though there were holidays immediately after the commencement of the festival, sparse turnout was witnessed at the temple. Moderate rush was seen on the first day and the pilgrims’ turnout hasn’t improved on following two days though it was a weekend.
The devotees’ rush did not cross one and-half-a-lakh, on an average. The temple authorities expected the turnout would surpass the ‘moola nakshatram’ rush which would be around 1.70 lakh to 1.80 lakh. The police did not allow the people to enter the One Town from the low bridge and flyover.
The devotees, who had a holy dip in Krishnaveni and other ghats close to Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS) were allowed to go towards the Indarkeeladri. In addition, the pushkar pilgrims, who preferred Bhavani Ghat, Pavitrasangamam and other ghats upstream Prakasam Barrage faced difficulty in reaching the temple due the traffic blockades. The devotees had to take a circuitous route to reach the Kanaka Durga temple. The Kanaka Durga temple did not operate any buses till Tuesday.
More so, there were no facilities atop the hill for the devotees to rest for a while. As the Devasthanam demolished all constructions as part of the master plan, there is no shelter. The lift facility available at the Mallikarjuna Mahamandapam is not sufficient to meet the demand. It discouraged many devotees, mostly senior citizens.
“About 6.5 lakh devotees visited the temple during last five days,” said Temple Executive Officer A. Surya Kumari.