Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday visited the famed Sabarimala temple to review arrangements for the three-month ‘Mandalam-Makaravilakku’ pilgrimage season of Lord Ayyappa, the presiding deity of the hill shrine. Braving a steady drizzle, the 72-year-old CPI-M leader trekked up the eight-kilometre dense forest path to reach the Sabarimala hill top last night.
“It took one-and-half-hours to reach the top.. Initially I had some anxiety as I am not walking long distance now.. But after starting, there was no difficulty. It was a good experience,” Vijayan told reporters after the 90-minute walk.
The LDF government, he said, was committed to comprehensive change through development at the shrine, which attracts lakhs of pilgrims from across the country during the festival season between November-January every year.
Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran was among those accompanied the chief minister to the top.
A V Unnikrishan Namboothiri of Kodakara in Thrissur district was selected as Melsathi (head priest) of the temple for one year.
Anish Namboothiri of Kollam was selected as Melsanthi for Malikapuram temple, the second major presiding deity at the Sabarimala.
The head priest was selected from a shortlist of nine names drawn from the applications received following an interview.
Travancore Devaswom Board President Prayar Gopalakrishnan and other top board officials were present on the occasion.