The Tirumala second ghat road, which was closed for repairs after landslides, was reopened after 40 days on Tuesday, January 11. The second ghat road was reopened for vehicular movement around 2.30 pm on January 11. On December 1, heavy boulders fell onto the ghat road from the hills in a landslide, causing obstruction to vehicles. With the boulders damaging the road critically, it had remained closed since then.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) Additional Executive Officer AV Dharma Reddy told the media that the restoration works were completed speedily in order to reopen the road for devotees. The road was reopened ahead of Vaikuntha Ekadasi on January 13, when a large number of devotees are expected to visit the Tirumala Venkateswara temple. The Additional EO said that since a few small repair works are remaining in a few places, heavy vehicles will only be allowed to use the link road.
Tirumala had witnessed unprecedented heavy rains in November, which led to landslides in several places on the ghat roads. The roads were closed by TTD in advance in view of the rain forecast, and the roads were reopened a few days later when repair works were completed. At the time, TTD had said that it had suffered losses of over Rs 4 crore due to the heavy rains.
Later on the night of November 30, the landslide on the ghat road caused many vehicles to remain stranded on the ghat road on December 1 morning. The TTD made alternative arrangements to divert the vehicles through the link road. Before the pandemic, the temple would see footfalls of around 50,000 to 1 lakh devotees in a day. The average number of devotees visiting the temple had dropped amid the pandemic and related restrictions. Over the past week, the daily number of pilgrims stands at around 29,000 to 32,000. On January 10, 32,242 pilgrims visited the temple.
In view of rising COVID-19 cases, the Andhra Pradesh government has announced a night curfew and other restrictions on theatres and public gatherings, starting from January 18. However, religious institutions have not been closed. They have been directed to follow COVID-19 protocol physical distancing, wearing of masks, proper sanitation etc.