Sabarimala: The authorities at the Lord Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala have extended the time for darshan to 16 hours a day during the latest pilgrimage season, which began on Friday. The shrine will open every day at 3 am, and devotees can have darshan till 1 pm.
Reopening at 4 pm, the shrine will be closed for the day at 11 pm with the recital of ‘Harivarasanam.' Another facility that has been arranged by the authorities to reduce crowding is allowing the pilgrims to climb the 'Padinettam Padi' at night even after the sanctum sanctorum is closed. The move will help pilgrims in having darshan without waiting in long lines when the shrine opens at 3 pm.
Pilgrims said that the extension of the darshan time was a relief for them. During the monthly rituals period, the shrine remained open from 5 am to 10 pm only. Incidentally, a large number of pilgrims are utilising the extended darshan time. After offering prayers at 3 am, they descend the hill by 4 am. Meanwhile, the temple witnessed thin crowds on the initial days of the annual pilgrimage. There were queues only during the puja time at the ‘valiya nadapanthal’.