THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that he would urge the Centre to declare Sabarimala as a National Pilgrimage Centre. The Chief Minister made this announcement at a meeting of South Indian ministers and top officials held here on Monday to review the preparations for the Sabarimala pilgrimage season. "Sabarimala is a place where pilgrims arrive from world over," the Chief Minister said. "There was a general consensus at the meeting that getting the National Pilgrimage Centre status would help in securing more facilities at the hill shrine," he added.
As part of efforts to secure the National Pilgrimage Centre tag, most of the development works outlined in the Sabarimala Masterplan has already been completed. “The rest will be completed in double quick time,” the Chief Minister said. He told the meeting that a control room should function in all the South Indian states for the coordination of the pilgrimage. "The control room will not just provide pilgrims the necessary information but it will also be of help to coordinate the activities of various states and their departments," Mr Vijayan said.
He said that various projects worth over Rs 300 crore were being carried out at the hill shrine in a phased manner. Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran informed the gathering that the state government with the support of oil companies would arrange resting places for pilgrims every 50 kms along the highways leading to Sabarimala. Top officials from Tamil Nadu, Telengana and Karnataka made presentation on the various requirements of pilgrims from their states.
Shrine to open tomorrow
The Lord Ayyappa shrine at Sabarimala will be thrown open for the two-month-long ‘Mandala-Makaravilakku’ pilgrimage season on Wednesday evening. However, regular poojas will commence only on Thursday, the first day of the Malayalam month, Vrischikam. Outgoing Melsanthi T. M. Unnikrishnan Namboothiri will open the sanctum sanctorum at 5.30 pm.
After the day’s rituals, the outgoing Melsanthi will climb down the 18 holy steps after handing over the keys to the new head priest A. V. Unnikrishnan Namboo-thiri of Mangalathu Azhakathu Mana at Kodakara, Chalakudy As many as 4000 security personnel would be deployed at Sabarimala and Pampa . KSRTC would deploy 1,000 buses for Sabarimala services besides 400 buses conducting Pampa-Nilackal chain services. The corporation will conduct services from Pamba to seven inter-state destinations including Bangalore, Tenkasi, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Coimbatore, Tenkasi and Chennai.