Free darshan tickets for Tirupati temple to be suspended amid COVID-19 surge

The TTD has taken the decision as thousands of devotees wait in line for the darshan tickets, which could pose a hazard.
People boarding a bus at Tirumala foothill
People boarding a bus at Tirumala foothill
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Amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in Andhra Pradesh, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) announced the suspension of free Sarva Darshan tokens at the Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirupati from April 12. The tokens will be issued only until the evening of April 11, until further orders.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the TTD said, “Since thousands of devotees have to wait at Bhudevi complex and Vishnu Nivasam for time slot tokens, the prospect of COVID-19 cases is likely to increase.” The TTD said that Tirupati city has witnessed a steady rise in cases recently. On Wednesday, Andhra’s Chittoor district 296 COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of active cases in the district to 2227. Across the state, Andhra Pradesh recorded 2331 cases and 11 deaths.

Recently, the popular Shirdi temple in Maharashtra was shut down for devotees from Monday, owing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state. While pooja ceremonies inside the temple will be held as usual, accommodation and dining hall for devotees will be closed, according to reports

In March, the TTD announced that devotees with darshan tickets will only be allowed to enter Tirumala by road through Alipiri only after 1 pm on the day before the darshan.

The Sri Venkateswara temple, governed by the TTD, is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in the world. It had been closed to devotees for around two and a half months starting from March last year due to COVID-19, before being reopened on June 11.

The number of devotees visiting the temple on a daily basis was initially capped at 6,000, and later increased to a maximum of 12,000. With restrictions eventually relaxed, Tirumala now has around 50,000 pilgrims on an average visiting the temple on a daily basis. Initially, the TTD had also restricted entry for people above 65, children below 10 and pregnant women. These rules were also relaxed in December, after a gap of eight months. 


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