Prepare for Attukal Pongala weekend: Special trains, buses, water taps and other arrangements

Monsoon timings on Konkan route from June 10, trains to depart much earlier
The Southern Railway has announced three special trains in connection with the festival. File Photo

The much-awaited Attukal Pongala festival of Thiruvananthapuram will be held on February 25. If you are planning to take part in the ritual, here is a lowdown of a handful of details you should know. Make sure that you make ticket reservations and other essential bookings at the earliest so that your plans don't get affected.

Special trains and stops
The Southern Railway has announced three special trains in connection with the festival. Memu special trains will conduct services from Ernakulam to Thiruvananthapuram. There will also be extra stops for various trains between the Thiruvananthapuram – Kollam, and Nagercoil – Thiruvananthapuram sections. The Ernakulam – Thiruvananthapuram Central Special Memu will start from Ernakulam at 1.45 am and reach Thiruvananthapuram Central at 6.30 am. Its stops will be at Piravam Road (2.19 am), Vaikom Road (2.26 am), Ettumanoor (2.42 am), Kottayam (2.55 am), Changanacherry (3.03 a), Tiruvalla (3.13 am), Chengannur (3.24 am), Mavelikkara (3.37 am), Kayamkulam (3.47 am), Karunagappally (4.03 am), Kollam (4.40 am), Mayyanad (4.55 am), Paravoor (5 am), Varkala (5.11 am), Kadakkavur (5.22 am), Chirayankeezhu (5.27 am), Murikkumpuzha (5.35 am), Kaniyapuram (5.39 am), Kazhakkoottam (5.45 am), Kochuveli (5.53 am) and Thiruvananthapuram Petta (5.59 am). The Special Memu Train will return from Thiruvananthapuram Central at 3.30 pm on Sunday. It will reach Ernakulam at 8.15 am.

The special Memu service from Nagercoil to Thiruvananthapuram will start at 2.15 am on Sunday. Its stops will be Iraniyal (2.34 am), Kuzhithura (2.50 am), Parassala (3.01 am) and Neyyattinkara (3.12 am). It will reach the Thiruvananthapuram Central Station at 3.32 am. As for the extra stops for various trains, the Mangaluru – Thiruvananthapuram Express (16348) will have Paravoor (2.44 am), Varkala (2.55 am) and Kadakkavoor (3.06 am) as its extra stops. The Gandhidham – Nagarcoil Express (016355) will have extra stops at Paravoor, Kadakkavoor, Chirayankeezhu and Kazhakkoottam. Amritha Express (16344) will have extra stops at Paravoor and Chirayankeezhu, and the Mangaluru – Thiruvananthapuram Maveli Express will have additional halts at Kadakkavoor and Chirayankeezhu. The Dr MGR Chennai – Thiruvananthapuram Super Fast Express (12695) will have an extra stop at Chirayankeezhu.

Special buses
At 9 pm on February 24, an air-conditioned KSRTC bus is scheduled to depart from Kottayam for Thiruvananthapuram. Special arrangements are for pilgrims who want to perform pongala rituals at KSRTC Kerala depot premises, which is within a 10-kilometer radius of the temple. Devotees can also return on the same bus they came in. The bus fare is Rs 1050 per person and pilgrims can access facilities including the employee toilet complex.

Water Authority sets up 1390 temporary taps
The Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has made elaborate arrangements to ensure the seamless distribution of potable water in Thiruvananthapuram city during the Pongala ceremony. The KWA has provided 1,390 temporary taps in the festival zone and 50 showers at Attukal. Steps are also in place to ensure round-the-clock operation of the Blue Brigade, the emergency mobile maintenance team. Water vending points have been arranged at PTP Nagar, Vellayambalam, and near the Iranimuttom water tank. Fire hydrants have been deployed at MSK Nagar, Konchiravila, and Kuriyathi.

A glimpse from the Pongala festival of 2023. Photo: Manoj Chemancheri

Six special squads headed by Assistant Executive Engineers of KWA have been formed to address the emergency issues in water supply as well as to oversee the network’s operation. These squads will be based out of Kuriyathi, Karamana, PTP Nagar, Vellayambalam, and Pongumoodu.

The KWA has carried out works worth Rs 1.56 crore on cleaning sewerage lines and manholes. To address complaints related to the sewerage system, teams equipped with six sewer cleaning machines and three robotic manhole cleaning machines will be deployed at various places during the Pongala day. Maintenance works at the sewage pumping houses too have been completed to prevent technical snags during the period.

Attukal Pongala
Women who took part in the Pongala ritual in 2023. Photo: Manoj Chemancheri

The sewerage division of the KWA has constituted six special squads at Kuriathi, Thampanoor, Eanchakkal, East Fort, Vellayambalam, and Pattoor for handling complaints and monitor the functioning of the sewage units during the festival. For lodging complaints related to water supply/sewerage, the KWA can be contacted round-the-clock on the toll-free number 1916.

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