The world's richest Hindu shrine -- the Sri Venkateswara atop Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh, saw offerings to the tune of Rs 25.7 lakh pour in on Monday, when its doors were opened for devotees, about 80 days after they were shut in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the temple, said that the first day saw around 6,000 devotees, comprising TTD employees and their family members, lining up for a darshan of the presiding deity.
The TTD had earmarked the first three days for employees and their families, in a kind of test run before the general public are allowed inside the premises from June 11.
A temple official, on condition of anonymity, said that the cash accruals through hundi offerings made by the devotees, comprising TTD employees and their families, were counted on Tuesday and found to total a little over Rs 25 lakh.
With the temple getting closed on account of the nationwide lockdown, the subsequent lack of pilgrim footfall and donations had resulted in a cash crunch at the TTD. Prior to the lockdown, the temple, located in Andhra Pradesh, used to attract around 60,000 pilgrims on an average per day.
The TTD has decided to limit the entry to 6,000 devotees per day in order to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 protocols of physical distancing.
Around 500 TTD employees wearing Personnel Protection Equipment (PPE) kits were deployed to regulate the queue. The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) ran special buses from Tirupati and checking was done at the Alipiri checkpost.
Children aged below 10 and people aged over 65 are not allowed, as per guidelines issued by the Centre.
With IANS inputs