Steep fall in pilgrim rush to Tirumala
With sharp rise in cases, the TTD slashed the issuance of free darshan tickets from 22,000 to 15,000 as a precautionary measure from April 1
Tirupati: The nationwide soaring Corona cases, which hit various sectors, and also the people did not spare Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateswara, which is witnessing a steep fall in the pilgrim flow now. Till March-end, the hill top temple town was teeming with devotees with more than 50,000 devotees on an average had darshan daily, came down to about 40,000 with the TTD slashing the issuance of free darshan tickets from 22,000 to 15,000 as precautionary measure to check Covid from April 1.
The pilgrim rush dipped further with the TTD totally suspended the free darshan from April 12 coupled with the increase of Covid cases all around particularly in the two Telugu states, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the worst hit state in the second wave of the pandemic from where more than 25,000 to 30,000 devotees arrive daily to have darshan of Lord Venkateswara.
With the alarming spike in cases since a week saw the pilgrim rush coming down day after day resulting in number of pilgrims who had darshan daily fell to below 25,000. On April 20, the number of pilgrims who had darshan was 23,636 which came down to 21,265 on April21 and on April 22 to 16,412 which is the lowest in the past six months.
Under advance reservation, TTD had already issued 25,000 tickets of Rs 300 special entry darshan and also another 5,000 Arjitha seva tickets (virtual) till this month end while the TTD also allowing darshan under VIP break and also to Srivani trust donors taking the
total number darshan ticket holders now to 32,000-33,000 daily against which only 16,412 that is 50 per cent only revealing the adverse impact of fast spreading infection in the country.
It is needless to say that the shopkeepers and hawkers particularly in Tirumala and also down the hills Tirupati where the hotels and private vehicle operators are worst hit with the drastic fall in the pilgrim rush due to Covid.
An elderly shopkeeper Venkatramana in Tirumala said they have never witnessed such a downfall in the business in Tirumala history. "After the pilgrim rush picked up in December last year after the Corona cases came down to minimum, we hoped that things would return to normal, but all our hopes dashed to grounds. This time it is difficult for most of us to withstand,'' he said.