Sabarimala: A variety in the food served free and quality drinking water are among the new facilities being offered to pilgrims as the famed Sabarimala temple opens on Tuesday evening for two-month-long annual pilgrimage.
Though the temple will open on Tuesday evening, the sanctum sanctorum will be opened for the pilgrims only on Wednesday morning, officials said. Travancore Devasom Board (TDB) President Prayar Gopalakrishnan said that this was the first time the pilgrims would be able to have food in peace of mind as 3,000 seats were ready, up from 300 in the past.
“For breakfast we will serve upma and pongal, for lunch it would be boiled rice with curries, and for dinner it will be kanji (rice gruel) and chapathy and vegetable curry,” said Mr Gopalakrishnan.
In the past, the food was served in a hall which could accommodate around 300 people. This time the facility will see 2,000 seats at the temple compound and 1,000 seats at Pamba — the foothills of the temple.
“Another new facility will be a daily supply of 3.5 lakh litres of water and 1.75 lakh litres of hot water all along the pathway that leads to the temple from the foothills and at other important places.
“Besides, we have 15 mobile water purification plants which can be moved from one place to another, depending on the rush of the people,” added the TDB President.
The doors of the sanctum sanctorum of the famed Sabarimala temple are opened on the first day of the Malayalam month of ‘Vrishickam’, which falls on Wednesday this time. As always, the festival season comes to a close on the day of Makaravilaku (sighting of the celestial light on the horizon) on January 14 next year.
Situated in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four kilometers uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, which is around 100 km from here.
The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.