A Tamil Nadu native who was en route to Sabarimala temple for pilgrimage was attacked and killed by a wild elephant at Vellaramchitta in Idukki district. The incident took place around 4.30 am on Sunday. The deceased has been identified as Badariappan, a 58-year-old from Coimbatore.
Vellaramchitta is a hilly area that comes under the traditional forest path. This path is often opted by many Sabarimala pilgrims who set out on foot to reach the temple.
According to the officials of Peruvanthanam police station in Idukki, 58-year-old Badariappan and his fellow pilgrims were sleeping in the forest path when the attack took place. “Only Badariappan was attacked, while other pilgrims in the group managed to escape. One of them immediately reported the attack to the forest officials,” said the police official.
Though the pathway was closed following the incident for some hours, it was reopened by noon on Sunday. The forest path is a natural habitat of wild elephants.
Last year in January 2019, another Tamil Nadu pilgrim from Salem was attacked and killed by a wild elephant while on the way to Sabarimala temple. In January 2018, a Chennai resident was killed in a wild elephant attack near Karimala.
The temple, which was closed after the annual Mandala pilgrim season, was opened on December 30 for the famous Makaravilakku festival. The Makaravilakku festival will be held on January 15. It is believed by the devotees that a light with celestial origins will be lit at Ponnambalamedu, a plateau across Sabarimala during the night of Makaravilakku. Following this, the shrine will be closed on January 21. The flow of devotees has been reported to be increasing in the last many days since the temple opened for Makaravilakku season.
Sabarimala temple had been in the limelight since the 2018 Supreme Court verdict, which allowed women of menstruating age to enter the hill shrine. Kerala had witnessed a series of agitations over the issue following that.