Fewer than 700 pilgrims arrived on the city within the first week of the pilgrim season
Scenes of pilgrims clad in black dancing to drum beats, adorned automobiles shifting out and in and not using a break, and seasonal retailers bustling with guests… Erumeli turns into a beehive of exercise when the annual pilgrimage season at Sabarimala takes off. However not this yr.
The temple city, the important thing base station to the hill shrine, appears abandoned, with fewer that 700 pilgrims reaching right here over the primary week of the season. This can be a stark distinction to the estimated 25,000-odd pilgrims who handed via the city every day the earlier season.
“The closure of the forest routes to Sabarimala, the every day restrict within the variety of pilgrims, and the situation that they need to produce a COVID-19-negative certificates executed 24 hours previous to reaching Nilackal have prompted the devotees to bypass Erumeli and head on to the hill shrine,” mentioned a senior official with the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB).
The decline in variety of guests to the 2 Ayyappa temples and the Nainar mosque have left the streets right here, which often throb within the religious frenzy of Petta Thullal, desolate. It additionally seems to have a substantial influence on the native enterprise with most eating places, retailers, parking grounds and even rest room complexes, which function solely in the course of the two-month season, remaining shut.
As an example, the TDB might lease out solely 15 of the 74 objects listed for auctioning this season whereas the revenue from public sale, which crossed ₹Three crore final time, has not touched even ₹10 lakh.
“After the e-auction and open auctions evoked a near-zero response, we had to give out some of the essential items such as the parking ground, toilet complex, coconuts and the drum sets at a very nominal price. A couple of seasonal shops too have been opened which are being run more as an offering to Lord Ayyappa than for profits,” mentioned Krishnakumar Warrier, Deputy Commissioner, TDB.
Jamaat too hit
The Erumeli Jamaat that owns parking floor and bathroom complexes, and the family models which eke out a residing by making articles for the pilgrims have additionally suffered losses.
The KSRTC, which clocked round ₹3.5 crore from its Sabarimala particular providers by way of Erumeli final yr, too faces a disaster .
As in opposition to the 80 schedules operated with 35 buses within the earlier season, the KSRTC has run solely a handful of providers within the Kottayam-Erumeli-Pampa sector to this point this season.