Andhra Pradesh: The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) Board, for the first time since the Temple’s inception, has decided to close the famous Lord Venkateshwara Swamy or Balaji Temple to devotees as a precautionary measure to control the spread of Coronavirus.
All the vehicles were stopped on the way to the temple and the walkways were also closed.
The decision was taken after an emergency meeting was called yesterday. TTD Board Chairperson Y.V. Subba Reddy told media that a devotee from Maharashtra had taken ill with fever, cough and cold inside the temple and had to be shifted to hospital.
“Though for the last few days we have been asking devotees to avoid coming to the temple, the situation now is such that we have to close the temple. However, the priests of the temple will perform the rituals on a daily basis,” Reddy said.
The patient who is now in Sri Venkateswara Ruia Hospital had come along with a group of about 100 pilgrims who had visited several other temples across the country. His sample has been sent for testing.
TTD had made elaborate arrangements for screening of the devotees. The pilgrims were being checked at entry points to the hill shrine. Sanitation was being thoroughly taken care of. All public places, roads, buses among others were being sanitised continuously.
The restrictions would come into force from Friday (today), Deputy Chief Minister for Medical and Health A.K.K. Srinivas (Nani) said after a high-level meeting on COVID-19, chaired by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Tirumala gets from 75,000 to 90,000 pilgrims every day. After appeals to avoid visiting the temple, this week there were about 30,000 devotees per day. “Even that can be a huge health risk. That is the reason we decided to shut the temple to devotees. We are stopping them at Alipiri itself. That may upset people, but it cannot be avoided,” Reddy said.
The Andhra Pradesh Government has already asked malls and cinema halls to close down till Mar. 31.