A 35-year-old pilgrim from Tamil Nadu was killed by a wild elephant on the trekking path to Sabarimala hill as he tried to save his young niece from being attacked.
Parama Sivam, who is from Salem, was among a group of 10 to 15 pilgrims on their way to worship at the shrine. He was attacked on the trekking path near Mukkuzhi on Tuesday night around 11pm, according to reports. The area comes under the Idukki district.
Though other pilgrims and forest guards on duty rushed him to the hospital after the attack, he was declared dead on arrival.
According to an official from the Periyar Tiger Reserve West division in Peeremedu, the niece sustained a small injury on her hand. The group of pilgrims, along with the niece, have brought the body of Parama Sivam back to Salem.
The path that the pilgrims use is along the Periyar tiger reserve, a natural habitat for wild animals, the official noted. Though there are restrictions in place to stop pilgrims from using the forest path after 6 pm, the rule is rarely followed, the official said. Following this incident however, local authorities will enforce the restriction.
Last year, another devotee was killed in an elephant attack on the path. In January 2018, Nirosh Kumar, a native of Chennai, died on a trekking path in a wild elephant attack as he travelled with a group of pilgrims to offer prayers at the temple. He was attacked by the elephant near the Karimala pilgrim transit camp.
The Sabarimala temple opened for the 21-day long Makaravilakku festival season on December 31. This marked the conclusion of the annual pilgrim season which began in November. The temple will be closed on January 20.