The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam plans to restrict the number of darshans by each devotee to only one a year. And a 'biometric system' will record fingerprints and photographs of pilgrims so that no one gets darshan tickets for the second time in a year.
"The proposal is being mooted because of the steep rise in the number of pilgrims. On an average, 60,000-75,000 pilgrims visit the temple every day. It may go up to one lakh in the next three years. At present, pilgrims have to wait for 12-15 hours to have a darshan on peak days. To avoid this, we are contemplating this only once-in-a-year darshan,"
The BJP and local religious leaders have slammed this move. "It is not proper to prevent people from visiting the god any number of times. The TTD should make alternative arrangements for speedy darshan rather than coming out with crazy ideas," BJP leader Prabhakar said.
Following similar protests, the TTD will review another controversial plan to bring the temple under the purview of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The TTD had recommended the state government that the temple and the other ancient shrines controlled by the trust board be handed over to the ASI to preserve their architectural heritage.
BJP state unit president G. Kishan Reddy said the temple would lose its sanctity if it is handed over to the ASI.
"There would be severe restrictions to the movement of pilgrims ... The TTD would lose the powers to spend on the upkeep of the temple and for every small work, it will have to knock the doors of the ASI," he said.
TTD executive officer IYR Krishna Rao said, "The ownership will continue to be with the TTD, only the upkeep will be done by the ASI."
The move apparently follows controversial decisions by the previous board like demolition of a 1,000-pillar mandapam and gold-plating of the entire complex.
"If the temple is handed over to the ASI, no one can tamper with its struc-Pilgrims wait for 12-15 hours for darshan. ture," a TTD official said.