As part of attempts to contain the spread of COVID-19, restrictions on large public gatherings have been put in place in several parts of India. However, despite similar efforts made by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) trust, devotees seem unperturbed by the disease, and the guidelines and advisories being issued by authorities in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The Tirumala temple, which is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in the world, has seen footfalls ranging from 60,000 to 80,000 visitors every day in the past week.
Last Monday, the TTD trust, which manages the Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, appealed to devotees visiting the temple to take precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19. People who showed symptoms of the disease were asked to refrain from visiting, and others who did visit were asked to take various precautionary measures like maintaining distance from others, and bringing sanitiser and masks.
TTD has also asked people arriving from other countries to not visit the temple for at least 28 days after landing in India. Despite such advisories, and the cancelling of certain events to avoid the congregation of visitors for a long period, TTD officials say that there has been no significant fall in the number of daily visitors.
As per the TTDâ€™s records, on March 15, a week after the first advisory regarding coronavirus was issued, nearly 63,500 people visited the temple. â€śThroughout last week, the number of visitors has been fluctuating between 60,000 and 80,000. It keeps rising and falling. But the number hasnâ€™t gone below 60,000,â€ť an official said, adding that the average number of devotees on a regular day usually falls in the same bracket.
â€śSo far, there hasnâ€™t been a significant drop. We are expecting the number of visitors to reduce further in the coming weeks,â€ť the official added.
Starting from Tuesday, the TTD management has announced that devotees will not be allowed to sit in the waiting areas of massive queue complexes, to avoid contact between individuals. Time-slot tokens will be issued, and visitors will be allowed to go for darshan in limited numbers.
TTD has also announced other measures like thermal screening at Alipiri, Srivari Mettu, and other areas where a higher number of people tend to gather. More sanitation workers will be deployed to ensure regular disinfection of cottages, rest houses and other vital points, according to an official statement. The management has also announced that anyone showing signs of fever would be taken to the Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences (SVIMS) hospital for treatment.