The wait for a pilgrim to get a “darshan” is eight hours, said a temple official.
“The rush has reached its peak. All pilgrims have been instructed not to remain at the temple top, once they complete their darshan,” said the official.
For the darshan, one has to climb 18 steps that lead to the sanctum santorum. A pilgrim has to wait there for several hours, before climbing the steps to have the darshan.
Situated in the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, the Sabarimala temple is 4 km uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, around 100 km from Kerala’s capital city, Thiruvananthapuram.
The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.
The two-month-long season began in November and it peaks from the first week of January. It reaches uncontrollable level towards “makara jyothi”, the most important event during the festival when a celestial light appears thrice on the horizon. This season, it takes place on January 14.
The normal practice, especially from pilgrims coming from the southern states from January 1, is to remain in the temple premises in temporary sheds and return only after witnessing the “celestial lights”.
Following the unprecedented rush, starting from the New Year, authorities have decided to allow pilgrims to stay back in and around the temple premises from January 10.