Liquor banned at Kotappakonda for Maha Sivaratri

Darshan, security arrangements made for three-day festivities


Consumption of liquor at Kotappakonda has been prohibited by the Excise Department during the festivities which will begin atop the hill, 10 km away from Narsaraopet, on February 20.

The Department of Excise and Prohibition has issued orders declaring the three days – February 20, 21 and 22 – as “dry days”, and chalked out an action plan to implement the prohibition. Though the festival is marked by religious fervour with more than 10 lakh devotees converging on the hills, the police anticipate trouble. A carnival-like atmosphere is present during evenings when cultural programmes are held, but in the past, such events had given way to obscene dances.

Superintendent of Police, Guntur Rural, Ch. Vijaya Rao, who reviewed the arrangements at the temple along with Narsaraopet MLA Gopireddy Srinivasa Reddy, said as more than 10 lakh were expected to converge, the whole area had been divided into 24 sectors. Nine check-posts would be set up. CC cameras would be installed while police personnel would have body-worn cameras. Blue Colts teams would also be deployed.

Mr. Vijaya Rao said that 2,500 personnel were being deployed, including three additional SPs, 16 DSPs, 50 CIs, 143 SIs, 274 ASIs, 888 PCs and 900 home guards. Police strike force, quick reaction teams and women police teams were also being drafted.

Mr. Srinivasa Reddy said that all arrangements were done to make the festival a memorable one.

As many as 14 ‘prabhalu’ (rectangular frames tapering at the top made of bamboo and decorated with coloured cloth and paper) have been permitted during the procession. Each, rising to a height of over 100 feet, is carried on decorated and illuminated bullock carts accompanied by a large following.

Separate queues

The temple authorities have made elaborate arrangements anticipating a huge rush. Devotees can choose among free darshan, sighra darshan (₹100 per ticket), abhisekham (₹150 per couple) and special darshan (₹50). Those seeking to perform puja to the Mula Virat (main deity) can do so by purchasing the ₹500 ticket and special queue lines have been set up for the purpose.

Only the vehicles with special passes would be allowed to ply on the ghat road.

Brahmotsavams begin

Kurnool Staff Reporter adds: The 11-day Maha Sivaratri Brahmotsavam began at the Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Swamy temple at Srisailam on Friday with special pujas led by temple executive officer K.S. Ramarao.

Special pujas and ‘Vajana Sevas’ have also planned for each day of the fete, which would end on February 24. The authorities have prepared about 30 lakh laddus for the event.

While about 30,000 people have visited the temple on the opening day, the footfalls are expected to increase significantly over the weekend.

Four queues have been arranged. The district authorities have also made arrangements to meet the water and sanitation needs of the visitors.