Tirunelvali: Devotees attending the ‘Kandha Sashti’ festival at the famous shrine of Tiruchendur, one of the six abodes of the Tamil Deity Murugan, this year have been left at the mercy of the private hotels and lodges that have exorbitantly increased their room tariffs ahead of the festival.
The six-day 'Kandha Sashti' festival beginning on October 20 is one of the mega festivals in the state that is expected to be attended by around eight to ten lakh devotees. “The sixth day of the festival on October 25, a minimum of four lakh devotees are expected to throng Tiruchendur to witness the Soorasamhara event,” said a temple official, who added that it would be a Herculean task to create basic amenities for the sea of devotees thronging Tiruchendur for the events.
According to the state minister for HR&CE Sevoor Ramachandran, all basic amenities needed for the devotees during the Sashti festival are being done on a war footing. It has been said that in collaboration with the private donors, the temple administration has made arrangements to ensure five litres of water per devotee per day and in addition to the existing permanent toilet complexes, around 120 temporary toilet units have also been created.
For devotees attending the festival from across the state outside Tiruchendur, accommodation for the six days is a huge problem, towards which neither the HR&CE department nor the Thoothukudi district administration have concentrated much, complained several devotees.
The four lodges-Arumuga Vilas, Jeyanthinathar Viduthi, Senthil Andavar Viduthi, Velavan Kudil, Devar cottage and Velavan Viduthi, run directly by the Tiruchendur temple Devsathanam Board has only 287 units (cottages, single and double rooms). In addition the Devasthanam too have 66 private cottages, able to accommodate six members each, under its administrative control.
The online booking for these cottages and rooms under the temple Devasthanam have been temporarily stopped for 'Sashti' festival and the devotees have to submit application before 15 days. This year the temple administration is said to have received around 40,000 applications for 353 rooms and cottages available with it. “Hence we resort to a lot system to allot accommodation for the applicants,” said a temple official, adding, many devotees coming from far off places could also get accommodation in private lodges in the town.
However, the room rents in some 75 private lodges in Tiruchendur town have been exorbitantly hiked in view of the Sashti festival. “They are not giving rent on daily basis,” complained a Mumbai devotee Rengarajan, who observes ‘Sashti Virtham’ every year.
Rooms in many of the private lodges around the temple have been already booked as according to a private lodge owner, many of their customers have reserved in advance. It has been said many of the regular customers of the private lodges reserved the rooms for this year's ‘Sashti’ year ago, when they came for the festival last year.