The world’s richest Hindu shrine Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh's Tirupati, the abode of Lord Venkateswara, was thrown open on Tuesday to a selective number of devotees as part of a trial ‘darshan’ run conducted by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) administration.
The visitors were mainly family members of the TTD staff, which is 23,000-strong and are living in the vicinity of the temple complex, and some locals. This was confirmed to Outlook by a TTD official, on condition of anonymity. It's chairman Y V Subba Reddy was not reachable.
Physical distancing norm was strictly adhered to by the devotees as official markings were done along the queue. The temple complex was also sanitized and other Coronavirus related SOPs were in place.
The official said the TTD has issued details of how to get tokens for darshan for the locals for the month of May to July. Locals would mean those who are residing within the limits of Tirupati Municipal Corporation (TMC) and Gram Panchayat of Tirumala.
As the first step, the TTD Board has decided to issue 4,500 tokens to the locals residing in the Municipal limits, while another 500 to those living in Tirumala.
“Tuesday's trial run was successful and we hope to implement this experiment for another month or two, before taking a final call depending on the improvement of the lockdown situation,” the official said. For now, the trial runs will be done on first Tuesday and last Saturday of every month till July.
TTD has made it clear that token will be issued on first-come-first-served basis and will be free of cost. Devotees have to produce their Aadhaar cards and a time slot will be given to them.
Though the temple was closed for the past 50 days or so, all rituals were carried out as usual as per Agama sastras with limited staff. Though the temple was shut, it is reliably learnt that TTD coffers got filled from online contributions from devotees to the tune of Rs 90 lakhs in April. This month is also expected to get a similar amount. The TTD has also reportedly cleared full salaries of all employees for April and will do so for May and June too.