Devotees must take the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and undergo RT-PCR test 24 hours before the visit
The Karthigai Deepam festivities at the Arunachaleswarar temple in Tiruvannamalai will begin on Sunday, with detailed security arrangements and civic amenities put in place for a restricted number of devotees because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 13,000 visitors, including 3,000 from Tiruvannamalai, will be allowed for darshan after registering their details on the temple’s website with their voter identity cards, Aadhaar numbers and driving licences. No charges will be collected for the registration on www.arunachaleswarar temple.tnhrce.in.
Devotees in Tiruvannamalai district can get their entry tickets by showing their proof of address at the special desk at the Collectorate, the Tiruvannamalai municipality office, the office of the Joint Commissioner (HR&CE) and the taluk offices between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on November 7 and 8.
Only 5,000 visitors were allowed for the festival in 2020. All devotees should have taken their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and must have undergone an RT-PCR test, 24 hours before the visit.
“Hotels and lodges were regularly checked to prevent bulk booking of rooms for more than three days. Further, 70 CCTV cameras have been installed to monitor the movement of vehicles and people during the festival,” A. Pavan Kumar Reddy, Superintendent of Police, Tiruvannamalai, told The Hindu.
Collector inspects areas
On Saturday, along with a team of officials, Tiruvannamalai Collector B. Murugesh inspected the temple area, the ‘Girivalam’ route and other key routes to ensure that all basic facilities and security arrangements were in place to prevent crowding. The key event of the festival, lighting of ‘Maha Deepam’, will be done at the Annamalaiyar hills without the participation of devotees. No devotee would be allowed to take the ‘Girivalam’ path from November 17 to 20. Further, they cannot provide ‘annadhanam’.
Mr. Reddy said 10 police booths, with each manned by three policemen, were opened for the festival. Additionally, 13 watch towers at key intersections and on important routes were installed. Policemen in these towers would warn visitors against crowding and monitor the movement of vehicles and people. Along the ‘Girivalam’ route and the temple, 15 pickets were set up, with each having at least three policemen. Mobile police teams were deployed for round-the-clock patrol. Five teams of plainclothesmen were also formed to prevent crime, including phone thefts and chain-snatching.
The district administration has created amenities, including installation of drinking water taps at many spots in the temple’s vicinity. A mobile medical team and an ambulance have been deployed.
Apart from the existing bus stand, temporary bus stands have also been opened, along with three car parking lots, at Esaniyam, Chengam Road, Kanchi Road and Thirukoil Road. However, officials said no special buses and trains were arranged.