Sabarimala: The two-month-long pilgrimage to the famed hillshrine of Lord Ayyappa temple is all set to commence with the portals of sanctum sanctorum opening Tuesday evening for the installation of the new chief priest Sasi Namboodiri, who will be presiding over the poojas and rituals for an year.
Over 30 million pilgrims, most of them from the south India states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, trek the holy hill every year to offer worship to Lord Sreedharama Sastha.
According to temple officials here, elbaorate arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of devotees, known as `ayyappas`, at Sannidhanam atop the Sabarimala and the base camp on the banks of River Pampa.
The 41-day first phase of the pilgirmage is known as `Mandala pooja` to be followed by the second leg `Makaravilakku," culminating in mid-January.
Hundreds of police personnel had been deployed for the security and crowd management during the pilgrimage.
Besides the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the shrine, a host of Government departments had been working in co-ordination for the last many days to ensure facilities for the devotees, temple officials said.
Kerala State Road Transport Corporation would be operating special bus services to Pamapa from major towns across the state for the entire season.
The Railways also run special trains from South India capitals like Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad to ease the rush.