Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Police-operated virtual queue booking for Sabarimala pilgrims turned out a huge hit with 6.43 lakh pilgrims booking their darshan time in advance this year, as peak pilgrim time begins.
The first week of the two-month-long peak period for the pilgrimage ended Thursday.
Addressing reporters here Friday, additional director general of police P. Chandrasekheran, who also heads the virtual queue department, said the facility was offered free of cost to those who want to book their darshan time in advance.
"On an average, we will be giving around 3,000 people who use the virtual queue facility the darshan time in one hour. This means the waiting period for the darshan at the peak time, which would extend to 10 hours, could be reduced to one hour," Chandrasekheran said.
The two-month-old pilgrimage season at the famous Sabarimala temple began Nov 16 this year.
All those who want to book their darshan time can log on to www.sabarimalaq.com.
On Thursday alone, there were a record 5.84 lakh hits; by now the total hits so far has crossed 4.3 crore.
"As things stand, this season, we expect two million people to avail this virtual queue booking facility. At the same time, we wish to state that it is not mandatory for every pilgrim to book their darshan in advance. People who wish to have a darshan in the conventional way can still do it," added Chandrasekheran.
He also added that close to 25 per cent of those who make bookings fail to turn up.
The unique queue-booking facility was unveiled by the Kerala Police last season, when a record 7.43 lakh pilgrims used it.
There are 26 counters at the foothills on the way to the temple to coordinate the pilgrims who have booked their darshan online; pilgrims who have made bookings will be expected to show an accepted photo identity card, along with the queue coupon that is given once a booking is made online.
Situated on the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, Sabarimala temple is four km uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district.
It is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrim centres in India and has earned the tag `Mecca for Hindus`.
The temple, which bars the entry of women who have attained puberty, is accessible only on foot from Pamba.