Sabarimala Yatra: Pandemic deals severe blow to tour operators
Coronavirus pandemic has hit the travel business hard as many Ayyappa devotees have dropped Sabarimala plans in view of limited darshan facilities at the Ayyappa Swamy temple in Kerala
Hyderabad: Coronavirus pandemic has hit the travel business hard as many Ayyappa devotees have dropped Sabarimala plans in view of limited darshan facilities at the Ayyappa Swamy temple in Kerala.
The Sabarimala-bound devotees have to register with the Kerala police and the authorities fixed a daily limit of 1,000 devotees on regular days and 2,000 on weekends. The police asked the devotees to come to Sabarimala only if they have the darshan ticket. This has made the devotees think twice before wearing 'mala' and planning their pilgrimage.
The authorities already said that people below 10 years and above 60 years would not be allowed. The Covid negative report is mandatory for all the visitors and they would also have to undergo antigen tests. With many Ayyappa devotees dropping the plans to visit the temple this time, the travel operators who usually mint money during December and January are crestfallen.
They used to people not only to Sabarimala but also to other temples in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. There are no special trains by the South Central Railway as the existing trains are also not filled because of the threat of Corona.
According to an estimate, around 40 lakh devotees visit Sabarimala from Telangana and half of them will wear 'Swamy mala.' G Satynarayana, a Guru Swamy from Golnaka, said that he has been going on pilgrimage for the last 15 years. There are about 20 members, who travel along with him to various places. All of them dropped their plans this year because of the Covid19 conditions.
K Anji Reddy, a local transporter, said he used to make three trips every year with the same batch of pilgrims during December and January but this time there were no enquiries from any of them. While hundreds have thus dropped their plans, some are fortunate to have darshan.
Gadapa Nagaraju from Karimnagar visited Sabarimala for the 24th time. Every year he visits Sabarimala by walk and this year he had darshan on December 12 after booking a ticket in advance.