Amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam temple in Andhra Pradesh has increased the quota of online booking for darshan by 3,000. This is the second time in the last fortnight that the temple authorities have raised the darshan quota since the famous shrine reopened on June 11.
The Tirupati temple had earlier decided on 3,000 online tickets but it was raised by another 3,000 last week, and with today's increase in quota, 9,000 devotees will now be allowed for darshan in July.
Children below 10 and those above 65 won't be allowed keeping the pandemic in mind. The temple authorities say the travel history of devotees is being checked and random COVID-19 screening is being carried out. Masks and social distance of six feet are mandatory. All Tirumala employees involved in regulating devotees are in full-body personal protection equipment (PPE suits), temple authorities said.
Tirumala officials said that an app to monitor social distancing is being used. The app can tell whether six-feet distance among devotees is being maintained. Apart from the app, thermal scanners are being used to check the body temperature of devotees and those with higher than normal temperature are being separated, the vigilance officer at the temple said.
As per the new rules under Unlock 1, places of worship barring those in containment zones have been allowed to open.
The Tirumala Tirupati temple, dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, is one of the eight Swayam Vyaktha Kshetras of Lord Vishnu. Before the COVID-19 lockdown, on a normal day the temple saw over a lakh foot falls. The temple is the richest in the country.