Lakhs throng temples in Andhra, Telangana

01-1420115803-andhra-pradeshHyderabad, Jan 1: Lakhs of devotees Thursday thronged Tirupati and other Hindu temples in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Vaikuntha Ekadasi, which coincided with the New Year. While it is common for devotees to visit temples on New Year, there was a huge rush at all major temples as the day coincided with Ekadasi, considered as auspicious day. Long queues of devotees were also seen at temples at various places in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad since Thursday morning. The governor of the two states, E.S.L. Narasimhan, and his wife offered prayers at Sri Venkateswaraswami temple at Srinagar colony here. The couple participated in special rituals.

The Tirumala hills burst to the seams as over two lakh devotees swarmed Lord Venkateswara temple. There was a huge rush of pilgrims since Wednesday. A stampede-like situation prevailed at the counters as pilgrims vied with each other to get tickets for darshan. The devotees, especially women and children, had to face hardships as many people climbed the iron railings to jump the queues. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the richest temple, made elaborate arrangements to manage the crowds but they proved inadequate to deal with the huge rush. Many pilgrims returned home disappointed without darshan. TTD officials said they provided milk, tea, coffee and sambar rice every three hours in the compartments as well in the outside queue lines. About two lakh devotees had darshan since Wednesday. TTD officials said 4,000-5,000 people entered the sanctorum every hour. Serpentine queues of devotees were seen at the Chilkur Balaji temple near Hyderabad.

Over one lakh people visited it. There was also a huge rush at Srikalahasti temple in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Many were in queues since early Thursday. Other major temples which saw huge crowds included Varaha Narasimhaswamy temple in Visakhapatnam district, Annavaram Satyanarayanaswamy temple in East Godavari, Mangalgiri temple in Guntur district and Srisailam temple in Kurnool district.