Berhampur: Now, devotees will no longer have to pay a fee to enter the Tara Tarini shrine on the banks of River Rushikulya near Berhampur in Ganjam district. However, for special darshan, one will have to pay Rs 100.
This was announced by Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange after he visited the temple on Saturday to review preparations for the annual Maa Tara Tarini Chaitra Yatra which will begin from March 10. As per tradition, the festival is observed on five Tuesdays of the Hindu month of Chaitra.
The Collector said the entry fee of Rs 2 will not be collected from devotees from March 10. However, he asked the council to increase the special ticket fee from Rs 50 to Rs 100 per head and the funds will be diverted to development of the shrine. Ticket counters for issuing special entry tickets will be soon opened at the Sub-Collector’s office at Chhatrapur and Berhampur.
Keeping in view the congregation of lakhs of devotees in the shrine during the yatra, the district administration has decided to put in place special provisions. To reach the shrine of Sisters Tara and Tarini, counted among one of major Tantra Peethas of Odisha, one has to climb 999 steps or take the ropeway.
This year, the district administration has decided to deploy 10 buses for taking devotees to the hill top.
Devotees bathe in Rushikulya River that flows by the side of Kumari hill before entering the shrine and it has three ghats for the purpose. Two persons had drowned during Chaitra Yatra last year and to prevent such mishaps, one of the three ghats will be closed during the festival this time.
“The Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF), fire fighters and police teams will be deployed at the shrine and the ghats,” Kulange said, adding that the shrine and adjoining areas will be brought under CCTV surveillance.
While four mobile toilets will be provided during the festival by Berhampur Municipal Corporation, the entire area will be made plastic-free. The civic body will also arrange 10 water tankers to meet drinking water needs of devotees.
All liquor shops in the area will be closed during the festival. As people tonsure heads of their children at the shrine during the Chaitra Yatra, a special area would be earmarked at the hill for the purpose.
The Collector also announced that fees would be collected from people who are interested to organise picnics and feasts on the foothills of Kumari from this year.
Recently, 5T Secretary VK Pandian, who was instrumental in developing the shrine when he was the Ganjam Collector in 2008, visited Tara Tarini temple and held discussions with the district and temple officials on infrastructure and public utilities available there.
Pandian had also interacted with the servitors on the problems and issues of the temple.