Fewer than 700 pilgrims arrived on the city within the first week of the pilgrim season
Scenes of pilgrims clad in black dancing to drum beats, adorned automobiles transferring out and in with out a break, and seasonal outlets bustling with guests… Erumeli turns into a beehive of exercise when the annual pilgrimage season at Sabarimala takes off. However not this yr.
The temple city, the important thing base station to the hill shrine, appears abandoned, with fewer that 700 pilgrims reaching right here over the primary week of the season. This can be a stark distinction to the estimated 25,000-odd pilgrims who handed by way of the city day by day the earlier season.
“The closure of the forest routes to Sabarimala, the day by day restrict within the variety of pilgrims, and the situation that they need to produce a COVID-19-negative certificates carried out 24 hours previous to reaching Nilackal have prompted the devotees to bypass Erumeli and head on to the hill shrine,” mentioned a senior official with the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).
The decline in variety of guests to the 2 Ayyappa temples and the Nainar mosque have left the streets right here, which normally throb within the religious frenzy of Petta Thullal, desolate. It additionally seems to have a substantial impression on the native enterprise with most eating places, outlets, parking grounds and even rest room complexes, which function solely throughout the two-month season, remaining shut.
As an example, the TDB may lease out solely 15 of the 74 objects listed for auctioning this season whereas the earnings from public sale, which crossed ₹3 crore final time, has not touched even ₹10 lakh.
“After the e-auction and open auctions evoked a near-zero response, we needed to give out a number of the important objects such because the parking floor, rest room advanced, coconuts and the drum units at a really nominal worth. A few seasonal outlets too have been opened that are being run extra as an providing to Lord Ayyappa than for earnings,” mentioned Krishnakumar Warrier, Deputy Commissioner, TDB.
Jamaat too hit
The Erumeli Jamaat that owns parking floor and bathroom complexes, and the family items which eke out a dwelling by making articles for the pilgrims have additionally suffered losses.
The KSRTC, which clocked round ₹3.5 crore from its Sabarimala particular providers by way of Erumeli final yr, too faces a disaster .
As towards the 80 schedules operated with 35 buses within the earlier season, the KSRTC has run solely a handful of providers within the Kottayam-Erumeli-Pampa sector to this point this season.