Thiruvananthapuram: Over 500 women belonging to the traditionally barred age group have registered for 'darshan' at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, when it opens for the Mandala-Makkaravillakku pilgrim season starting from November 17.
The bookings have been made through police online portal which got underway from October 30, police said.
"We randomly checked up and found that 539 women in the 10-50 age group have booked till yesterday...," a senior IPS officer told PTI here Saturday.
The figure assumes significance as the Sabarimala temple had witnessed frenzied devotees opposing the entry of women belonging to the menstrual-age in the wake of landmark Supreme Court verdict permitting women of all ages to offer prayers at the hill shrine.
The women had registered after logging into www.sabarimalaq.com.
"It is a fact that some names of women have been noticed (in the website). We do not know if they are real or booked by the same person... As of now there is no system to validate," he said.
Since booking on the police site is free, there is no payment gateway. Such payments using credit cards would help in validating the identity of the person making the e-bookings, he added. The official said that though a request had been made to the government to permit charging of Rs 10 as registration fee while making the bookings, this proposal has not received the government nod so far.
As per the government site, digital Q ticket is invalid without a KSRTC bus ticket to take the pilgrims from Nilackal to Pamba, the base camps. Private vehicles are being allowed only till Nilackal. However, in the case of 539 bookings, KSRTC bus tickets have not been booked, the official said.
"If some people decide to go by foot, we cannot insist that they should travel by bus. Although we advise them to take KSRTC bus pass," he said. Meanwhile, state-based Ayyappa Dharma Raksha Samithi, a pro-Hindu outfit, has decided to launch a prayer campaign to "protect" the rights of Lord Ayyappa by lighting lamps at five crore houses across seven states during the 41-day annual pilgrim season.
On November 6, around 200 devotees had tried to prevent a woman pilgrim from entering the hill shrine, suspecting her to be of menstrual age, and allegedly attacked a cameraman of a Malayalam news channel.