Devotees visiting the Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala were hit hard on Wednesday as taxi drivers the owners of hotels and the shops refused to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination currency notes after the government’s sudden move to the demonetise them.
The pilgrims, who gather from all over the country to the temple town, had a tough time buying food and other crucial items of daily use. Some were facing difficulties even in buying milk for their children.
“After reaching the railway station on Wednesday morning, we learned that Rs 500 & Rs 1,000 notes are no longer valid. Since we were traveling, we are carrying only the high denomination currency notes,” said G. Rammohan, the devotee from Visakhapatnam.
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With banks and ATMs closed for the day, the pilgrims and visitors have no option but to borrow or buy on credit or too rough it out.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which runs the affairs of the hill shrine — the richest in the country — intervened to deliver some succor to the pilgrims. It organized for free food, snacks and the milk for all pilgrims.
“We are also accepting Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes for the darshan tickets,” a TTD official told IANS.
Preparations were also made to enable devotees to swipe their credit and debit cards for accommodation and to the other services provided by the TTD.
About 50,000 pilgrims every day have ‘darshan’ of the idol at Tirumala temple in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
The pilgrims at the Sri Bhramrambha Mallikharjuna temple at Srisailam and other prominent shrines in Andhra Pradesh & neighboring Telangana also has a tough time due to the Centre’s move to do away with a high denomination currency notes.
The devotees complained that a sudden move caused them severe inconvenience as they were standing at bus and railway stations. Many went without the food for hours.
As it is ‘Karthika Masam’, an auspicious period, thousands of devotees comes to the temples, especially at Srisailam.
Meanwhile, Vishwa Hindu Parishad has demanded that both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments set up special counters at temples administered by them to help the devotees to exchange Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.