Pilgrims had to travel at least 150 km to reach the shrine from Kochi to get to Sabarimala temple
Pilgrims to the famous Ayappa temple of Sabarimala will now have easier access to the temple town. The Kerala government today identified a place where a greenfield airport will come up. The site - the 2,263-acre Cheruvally estate of the Harrison Plantations - is just 48 km from the hill shrine. It is near two national highways and five roads built by the PWD, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Wednesday while making the announcement.
Earlier, pilgrims had to travel at least 150 km to reach the shrine from Kochi, the nearest city with an airport. The shrine is visited by Lakhs of people every year. The biggest rush is during the November-January season.
In February, the state cabinet had given approval for setting up a new airport. Later, a three-member committee appointed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had identified three possible locations for it. Tenders have been issued for the project.
But the land in question is disputed with the government claiming ownership over it in court.
The Sabarimala temple is situated on the Western Ghats in Kerala's Pathanamthitta district. One of India's holiest shrines, the temple does not allow entry to women between the age of 10 and 50 years - a matter that has generated a huge controversy.
The Sabrimala Devasom Board, which manages the temple, has argued that the ban is a custom and no court can interfere in religious customs. The Supreme Court, which was examining the issue, has reserved its judgment.