On Wednesday morning, the officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) received a rude shock. A devotee from Maharashtra fell sick during the darshan of Lord Venkateswara and was diagnosed with fever, cold and cough – early symptoms of Corona Virus. He was admitted to the isolation ward at the Sri Venkateswara Ruia Government hospital in Tirupati and his samples sent for testing.
“The results are awaited. We do not know if it is positive or not but we cannot take a chance with the number of devotees who come to Tirumala temple. We had to take a call immediately. We are being cautious,” YV Subba Reddy, Chairman of TTD told Filter Kaapi.
If this devotee tests positive, it is a cause for great alarm. That is because he had arrived in Tirupati on Tuesday evening with a group of 100 other pilgrims and they had toured various temple towns like Varanasi and Puri.
As a result of this scare, the TTD decided to close the Tirumala temple to devotees with immediate effect. Pilgrims were stopped at the Alipiri gate at the foothills from Wednesday afternoon. All guest houses in Tirumala were asked to be vacated. Only 12-14 priests will be allowed inside the temple in order to perform the daily pujas in two shifts.
Tirumala is the richest temple in the world. Close to 75000 to 90000 pilgrims visit the temple everyday. Over the last week, due to the scare and efforts by the temple administration to regulate the rush, the number had dwindled to 30000, which is not a small number in itself. The TTD authorities say it would be impossible to control if an infected man spreads the virus in the rush of devotees.
No outer limit has been set by the TTD when this closure will come to an end. Authorities say the situation will be monitored closely and a lot obviously will depend on the test result of the devotee from Maharashtra.
Categories: Andhra Pradesh