Devotees at Sannidhanam| Photo:CK AJi|Mathrubhumi
Sabarimala: Pilgrims to the Lord Ayappa temple here are unable to book for darshan as the authority did not start online booking yet. The High Court has granted permission to allow 5000 pilgrims to the temple from Sunday onwards.
But even after the court order, the police department did not open the virtual queue facility on Saturday night. Hence, 5000 pilgrims would not get the chance to have darshan at the temple.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, pilgrims to Sabarimala have to book online for darshan.
According to reports, online booking will resume once the government takes a decision. At present, 2000 pilgrims are allowed to visit the temple from Monday to Friday and 3,000 on Saturday and Sunday.
Earlier, the committee headed by the Chief Secretary did not grant permission to increase the number of pilgrims after employees and police personnel in Sabarimala tested COVID-19 positive.
The government also mandated that pilgrims who visit the shrine must undergo RTPCR, RT-Lamp or Express Nat Test from December 26 onwards.
Pilgrims, as well as employees, must produce COVID-19 negative certificate of any of these tests at Nilakkal.
At present, antigen test certificate issued within 24 hours is received from the pilgrims and others. The High Court also ordered to make RTPCR test certificate mandatory for all.
Meanwhile, there is no facility for RTPCR, RT-Lamp and Express Nat test at Nilakkal. The health department official informed that they are unable to arrange facilities for these tests at Nilakkal.
Compared to the antigen test, these tests are expensive and the results will be delayed.
A rate of Rs 2100 to Rs 2700 are charged from a single person for these tests. Hence, this pilgrimage season will be more expensive for the devotees who visit the shrine.
At the same time, the Travancore Devaswom Board and police informed that arrangements in Sabarimala will be revised when the government issues an order to increase the number of pilgrims allowed per day.