Kerala High Court | Photo: PTI
Kochi: Following a recent incident of alleged illegal trespass by some people into Ponnambalamedu to perform a pooja, a hilltop ritually connected with the famed Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple in Pathanamthitta district of the state, the Kerala High Court on Wednesday restricted access to the area.
A bench of Justices Anil K Narendran and P G Ajithkumar directed that no one should enter Ponnambalamedu except for official purposes.
It also asked the police to conduct a detailed investigation into the recent trespass.
During the hearing, police told the court that it has arrested three persons so far in connection with the matter.
The court was hearing a plea that it initiated on its own with regard to the alleged illegal trespass, based on a report by the Special Commissioner, Sabarimala. The special commissioner had prepared a report on the criminal trespass of certain unauthorised people into the sacred 'Kalthara' of Ponnambalamedu, which is inside the core area of the Periyar Tiger Reserve -- a protected area.
On May 17, Kerala Police had launched an investigation into the incident after registering a case on the basis of a complaint received from the Commissioner of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the hilltop shrine of Sabarimala.
In a video that surfaced on social media on May 16, a man who was part of the group that allegedly trespassed into Ponnambalamedu could be seen sitting on a platform atop the Ponnambalamedu Hills, located about four kilometres from the Sabarimala temple, chanting mantras while performing some rituals.
According to Lord Ayyappa devotees, Ponnambalamedu is a revered place as the auspicious 'Makaravilakku' is lit there annually marking the culmination of the pilgrimage season at Sabarimala.
A high-security zone, the place, which is located in a deep forest, comes under the direct control of the Forest Department.