Sabarimala: The virtual queue facility that enables Lord Ayyappa devotees from any part of the world to book their chosen time to offer darshan at the hill shrine has greatly helped overcrowding at the temple where the annual pilgrimage is on.
According to temple officials, till Thursday 6.43 lakh devotees booked through the system by logging on www.Sabarimalaq.Com and the total hits received far exceeded the actual booking.
"The steady increase in response shows that the devotees, especially those coming from far-off places, prefer to use the facility so that they could avoid spending endless hours in queue," a senior police official on duty at Sabarimala said.
"Effective crowd management to ensure hassle-free darshan to devotees is the biggest challenge during the two-month-long pilgrimage. The virtual queue system has proved a great help to achieve this end," the official said.
Police estimated the total bookings through the free service to go up to 20 lakh by the end of the pilgrimage season in mid-January, against 7.43 lakh bookings last year.
Sabarimala VirtualQ Portal is developed and managed by the Kerala Police to help pilgrims create a slot by selecting a date and time for their pilgrimage.
On the selected time, they can arrive at the base camp Pampa, and enter the direct queue without waiting much.
This will help devotees plan their pilgrimage time on an advanced basis as per the available slots.
The devotees with advance time slot booked could get entry without being in the queue till the `Nadapanthal` in front of the shrine uphill. Police would verify the coupon and photo ID of pilgrims to ensure that only the pre-registered pilgrims get into the dedicated queue.
The search results would show a calendar view of the month with the dates in green colour box, if slots were available.
By clicking on the date, available slots for that particular day will be displayed on right side and a devotee can choose a slot from the list.
When a slot is booked, the pilgrim could print the coupon and also it would be sent to his or her email, officials added.