The Tirupati temple in Tirumala, one of the most famous and richest temples in the country, is gearing to open its doors soon to devotees. The Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday issued orders that the temple board can open the shrine on a "trial" basis for its employees and local public only.
The move comes on the heels of the central government’s nod to reopen religious institutions across the nation from June 8 as part of its relaxations in its Unlock 1.0 plan.
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) board, which manages the temple, had last month requested the state government to allow the temple to resume activity. After examining the request, the state government had granted permission to the temple board and directed the Executive Officer to look after the implementation.
The temple, which attracts close to a lakh devotees on a daily basis, has been shut since the beginning of the lockdown and is reportedly incurring a loss of at least Rs 200 crore a month.
“Trial run can be conducted for TTD employees and local public of Tirumala – with limited number of people duly ensuring physical distance of 6 feet between persons at all times and at all points,” the order said.
However, the date of reopening is yet to be decided. As suggested by the Centre, June 8 is being considered by the TTD board, say sources.
The reopening would be done in phases. In the first, the trial run would be done by allowing employees only and in the next, people staying in local areas would be allowed to step inside.
Preparations to open the temple were on since last month. Markings were done on the floors of the temple to ensure distancing. Thermal screening facility has been set up in Alipiri and Srivarimettu - the two points at the foothills - used by devotees to trek to Tirumala where the temple of Lord Venkateswara is located.
“Whenever the state government gives a nod to opening the temple, we will do it. If there are guidelines to do so, the TTD board will implement it,” Board Chairman YV Subba Reddy told News18 earlier.
It is still unclear if the number of ‘darshans’ (visits to innermost shrine near the deity) in a day would be reduced to accommodate people.
This move hints that the state could consider opening other places of worship from June 8.
Andhra Pradesh has until now followed the Centre’s guidelines for relaxations in the state. The government, has however, decided to keep its borders shut for people coming in from other states.