After a moderate crowd turned out on the first day to take a holy dip in river Krishna in Andhra Pradesh, where the 12-day 'Pushkaram' festival began on Friday, the pilgrim count picked up significantly on Saturday.
According to a report in the Times of India:
A total of 8.25 lakh pilgrims took the holy dip across the state on Saturday. Out of the total, more than 50 per cent (4.2 lakh) footfalls were registered in Vijayawada alone. In other parts of Krishna district more than 1.4 lakh people bathed in the Krishna while Guntur witnessed close to two lakh pilgrims.
The New Indian Express reported that the pushkar ghat at Amaravati alone witnessed over one lakh pilgrims, while about 60,000 people thronged the ghat at Seethanagaram near Prakasam Barrage.
The report adds:
After finding some problems with regard to lack of required temporary toilets and lack of spacious shelters for performing â€˜Pinda Pradanamâ€™ rituals, where the priests and pilgrims were forced to spend under bright sun on the first day, the officials erected a spacious shelter for conducting the rituals and also arranged additional toilets.
On Friday, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and his wife Bhuvaneswari joined Kanchi seer Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswati in taking the holy dip in the river Krishna at Durga Ghat in Vijayawada.
Krishna Pushkaram' is a river festival that comes once in 12 years and celebrated with traditional gaiety for 12 days.
Though the government estimated that about 15 lakh pilgrims would take a holy dip in the Vijayawada city on day one, only a moderate crowd of over six lakh actually turned up, said an official overseeing the festival.
With three consecutive holidays from Saturday, authorities hope the numbers would swell considerably.
The hill shrine of Goddess Kanaka Durga, presiding deity of Vijayawada, swarmed with devotees, who offered special pujas.
The replica temple of Lord Venkateswara at Swarajya Maidan also attracted scores of devotees.