Kurnool: Pilgrims visiting Srisailam have complained of the choultries, community accommodations supposed to provide free accommodation, were charging them for their services.
Since times immemorial, dominant sections of society have been running their own lodges called choultries in Srisailam. Their maintenance and upkeep is done through donations received from the respective communities.
The temple town has choultries run by Reddy, Vysya, Brahmin, Kamma, Kummara, Lingayath and other communities. Over 80 lakh pilgrims visit the Lord Sri Brahmarambika Mallikarjuna Swamy temple in Srisailam every year. Sankranti is one of the busiest season in the calendar of Srisailam when Brahmostsavams are conducted for a week.
Nearly 40 choultries provide about 1,800 rooms and provide accommodation to pilgrims based on community. Each choultry has a minimum of 20 rooms and big halls and have food provisions free of cost. They are managed with the donations collected from persons who can afford to donate to maintain the choultries.
The endowment and temple administration provided land free to establish choultries or guest house to societies in the temple premises. The government has also allocated sites to each society which has to be run under the service motto.
According temple records, there are 159 rooms in Akhila Barata Redla Satram and 150 in Karivena Satram which are the most popular choultries.
Vasavi Satram has 150 rooms and there are 42 rooms in Lingayat Choultry, Kambam Satram has 110 rooms, Srungeru Sankar Mutt has 14, Padmasaleeya Satram has 65, Arya Gowda Anna Satram has 60, Telaga Kapu Satram has 90, Yadava Anna Satram has 66, Salivana Anna Satram has 28, Velama Satram has 35, Togataveera Kshetriya Satram has 36 and Jagadguru Anna Satram has 73 rooms.
“The staff of Salivahana Nityannadana Satram, which belongs to my community, demanded Rs 300 for a room I sought for my family per day,” K. Sunkanna, native of Ulchala in Kurnool district said.
“Immediately, I called the concerned association president who lives in Kurnool town but I got helpless response from him,” he added. “Finally I stayed in the small room by paying Rs 300 for one night and vacated it next morning without taking any food,” he said.
“Even though one of my close relative got one room constructed at the choultry with his own expenses as donation, I could not get the free room for the past ten years,” Bommala Ramesh, a Balija community, who regularly visit Srisailam temple along with his family, said.
They had to pay for the accommodation just like any private lodge, he added.
"If we pay Rs. 500, we will get a good room at any satram regardless of caste," P Narayana Reddy, a devotee from Guntur district, said. The committees of choultries were collecting money from pilgrims under the guise of donations, he added.