I do very well realize that many will not like or agree with my viewpoints related to my Tirupathi visit. However, I am 100% convinced that no religion or trust has any right to create a situation that becomes traumatic to person/s visiting a religious place with total faith and dedication in deity to get some solace. No religious ritual necessity allows any authority to create a situation when a person may feel suffocated in a waiting queue and still can’t come out. I was week, sick and felt like leaving the place and come out but there was no way out and no one from the authority to help there. Trauma of Thirumala darshan is a typical Indian case of mismanagement, even though it is a government managed temple with a senior IAS heading it.
Marketing of its power to fulfill the wishes has been excellent and the temple is known world over for its wealth and its gold. Donations of celebrities and rich men keep on hitting the headlines of media. Its annual Hundi collection must be the highest that makes it the richest temple in India.
Right on the first day, the guide of Tamil Nadu Tourism collected Rs 200 more per person from this group of Delhi. According to him, the Devasthanam has increased its entrance fee from Rs 100 to Rs 300 after we booked, and it’s for a special darshan avoiding the crowd that comes in for free.
The whole temple appears to be permanently barricaded. All the railings and enclosures for the visitors are now of well finished brass material. Anyone can see the way gold has been used or misused (as the quality of workmanship is hardly of a good standard) to make it cover it. I wonder the whole attention of the authority is on making more money from the visitors. For example, Yamuna wanted 6 extra ladoos. I had to pay Rs 450.
One can hardly appreciate the architecture and sculptures in the temple with these barricades covering the main areas for crowd management. One can hardly pray, confess, bow or see or touch even the door step of the sanctum sanctorum.
Most of the great Indian temples are under-designed to handle such a huge crowd that visits these days. Perhaps India over years have mastering the science of under-designing its facilities, be it its new multi lane highways or flyovers, railways stations or ports.
Fear of terrorists has been the reason for banning photography that makes every tourist morose. I don’t know how golden temple of Amritsar manages it and why can’t others follow it. Perhaps the Hindu shrines don’t get the right support from the community as Sikh shrines do.
Can the authority of the Thirumala shrine allow or invite some real reputed crowd management consultants to study and come out with the solution?
Right investment in some facilities with modern technology (against gold covering) in and around the temple, such as sky walks, may make the visitors enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the shrine and the visit more memorable.
Can some students of IIMs and IITs or any other institutes instead of joining political parties, be it BJP, Congress or any other, take up the study of stupendous crowd management problems at many shrines that we visited in Tamil Nadu trip? If Thirumala was the worst, Rameshwaram, and Meenakshi also need a close look.
All these Indian heritages require better attention and upkeepment. At least Thirumala shrine has so much money and cash that it can be developed on the basis and concept of swarga (Heaven).
Is someone listening? Will the Hindus priests and pandas or the politicians with eyes on the riches of the shrines allow anything better to come? And how many Hindus will go against them or support the move?
Let me tell them that the conditions at Thirumala will only make the younger Hindus that are creating the new image of India keep them distancing from the religion and these shrines.
I know the trauma of a visitor at Thirumala will continue. I shall not like to hear any news of any serious stampede and casualties at Thirumala.
My trauma at Thirumala reached its peak with the loss of my camera that had all what I collected for my acquaintances. It happened while transferring from the Andhra Pradesh state bus to Volvo coach of Tamil Nadu Tourism. It was entirely my fault. I wish Balaji can get my camera back, and I promise I shall return again to Thirupati.