PAMBA: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today suggested that the practice of providing special darshan for VIPs in the hill temple of Lord Ayyappa at Sabarimala should be done away with and that the Tirupati temple model queue system for pilgrims needs to be introduced.
The chief minister, who held a review meeting of various facilities at the temple prior to the start of pilgrim season, also wanted the shrine, which sees a heavy rush of pilgrims every year, to be kept open on all days.
He also enquired if Tirupati model darshan tickets of Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 250 could be introduced for Sabarimala pilgrims. Prayar Gopalakrishnan, President of Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the world famous shrine, however turned down the three suggestions of the chief minister at the meeting, which also saw heated exchanges between both of them.
“The temple cannot be opened on all days as it follows certain rituals and customs,” Mr Gopalakrishnan said.
There are no separate queue for VIPs, he said adding only those who offer poojas for over Rs. 500 are allowed to have darshan after standing in a special queue. The Tirupati model tickets also cannot be introduced as it would amount to discriminating devotees, he said.
The TDB president said only women of a particular age group are not allowed inside the temple.
The chief minister also suggested that a rope way and airport for pilgrims who come from far off states need to be considered.
“We need to think of an airport as people from different states are coming”, he said.
Mr Vijayan said the parking facilities are not enough at Pamba and suggested a multi-level parking facility.
State ministers – KK Shylaja, Kadakkampally Surendran, K Raju, AK Saseendran and KT Jaleel besides TDB officials and members from various departments participated in the meeting.