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Updated December 25th, 2023 at 15:10 IST

Pilgrims Decry Poor Traffic and Crowd Management at Sabarimala

Pilgrims from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu face significant challenges at Sabarimala due to the Kerala government's shortcomings in traffic management.

Aswin Nandakumar
Sabarimala Pilgrims Face Delays and Restrictions
Sabarimala Pilgrims Face Delays and Restrictions | Image:Republic
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Kochi: The inefficiency in the Kerala government's administration in facilitating a seamless pilgrimage to Sabarimala has come to light yet again as thousands of pilgrims, primarily from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, found themselves entangled in traffic snarls from various points in Pathanamthitta and Kottayam to the Nilakkal base camp at the hill shrine, on Monday.

Amid the escalating number of devotees seeking darshan at the Dharma Shasta Kshetra in Sabarimala, the police have gone back to the failed idea of restricting vehicles to the hill shrine. Pilgrims from Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are left hankering in the vehicles for 14 hours. 

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"What kind of government is running this pilgrim," stated a visibly frustrated Kannadiga driver ferrying pilgrims to Sabarimala. "We are stuck in this snarl for so many hours. There is no option to eat food which we usually cook by the roadside," he stated to Republic stringer.

Pilgrim groups from Tamil Nadu shared their grievances, highlighting the lack of basic facilities. "No toilet facility, there is no water in the toilets," lamented a pilgrim from Trichy. Another pilgrim from the group expressed concern about the well-being of fellow travelers, emphasizing the need for the government to address their plight.

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While the main worship center, Sannidhanam, witnessed the highest number of devotees in the last two weeks on Christmas Eve, with 100,696 having darshan, the police have exacerbated the situation by disabling buses from other pilgrimage centers outside the Pathanamthitta district.

We want the Karnataka Chief Minister to intervene

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Calling for intervention, pilgrims from Karnataka urged their Chief Minister to ensure a smoother pilgrimage experience. "We want the Karnataka government to intervene to ensure that pilgrims from the state get a smooth darshan. We are stranded in an unknown place for so long," one pilgrim lamented.

POLICE RESTRICT RUSH AT THE PERIPHERY TO AVOID JAM AT NILAKKAL BASE CAMP

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The police are trying to restrict rush at Nilackal and have created traffic restrictions in multiple areas on the periphery of Sabarimala pilgrimage. Traffic restrictions were imposed since 5 am today morning at Pala Ponkunam Road, Kanjirappaly, Mundakayam and Erumely. "At 35 miles in Idukki district, ayyappa devotees whose vehicles were restricted began a sit-in protest against the police. 

"Police kept our bus on hold here for 6 hours here. We had to resort to protest, such was the atrocious planning," stated an irate pilgrim. Similar protests were witnessed at Mundakkayam in Kottayam as well.

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As of December 25, a staggering twenty-five lakh pilgrims have visited Sabarimala since the season commenced in mid-November. Despite ongoing challenges, officials maintain that the situation is under control, attributing restrictions to the natural course of managing such a pilgrimage.


 

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Published December 25th, 2023 at 15:10 IST

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