More than 3 lakh devotees had darshan of Lord Sri Suryanarayana Swamy at Arasavalli on the occasion of Ratha Saptami on Sunday. As expected, there was unprecedented rush at the temple from Saturday evening. Sarada Peetham head Swaroopanandendra performed 'Mahahsheerabhisekham' around 1p.m., marking the commencement of the celestial event at the temple. Among the dignitaries who visited the temple was Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, who was welcomed with 'Poornakumbham'.
Meanwhile, devotees had a tough time waiting in serpentine queues since Saturday midnight. Thanks to poor arrangement of counters selling Rs. 100 tickets, many had to walk up to 3 km to reach the counters, leave alone waiting in queues later. For instance, those who were in the queue at 4 a.m. could have darshan only after 11 a.m. Moreover, the temple authorities failed to set up facilities for food and water supply for pilgrims who waited in queues for long hours.
It was almost 10-hour wait for those who preferred 'free' queues, although they had arrived at the temple in the early hours of the day. Several devotees had to return without having darshan. The state of pilgrims who were in the Ksheerabhisekham queue was relatively better, as several counters were open en route to the temple. Several devotees faced difficulties owing to confusion at the exit route. It looked like another queue, and they had to walk almost 2 km through narrow lanes to reach the main road. In this process, they were again forced to move around the temple to collect baggage.
“It was a terrible experience for us in the Rs.-100 ticket queue. There was no chance to go back, thanks to heavy barricading. Officials were concerned about VIPs alone, while pilgrims were ignored," alleged K. Adinarayana from Parvatipuram of Vizianagaram district. Meanwhile, anticipating rush in the morning hours, most VIPs, including Labour Minister K. Atchannaidu, Kinjarapu Ram Mohan MP, Kuna Ravikumar and Gunda Lakshmi Devi MLA had darshan 1 p.m.