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As mercury soars, footfall falls 50% to 50,000 at Golden Temple in Amritsar

SGPC provides water coolers, sprinklers, additional mats for devotees’ convenience

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Tribune News Service

GS Paul

Amritsar, May 19

The soaring heat has taken its toll on the footfall of devotees at Golden Temple.

Normally, between 90,000-1,00,000 visitors pay obeisance at Golden Temple daily. For the past few days, temple officials said this count had come down to half.

Nonetheless, to beat the heat, the SGPC has made special arrangements for the convenience of the devotees. The timing for visitors is between 4 am and 11 pm.

Golden Temple manager (parikrama) Narinder Singh said, “Barring Sundays, when local devotees also visit the temple, the actual footfall of outsiders has come down to 50,000-55,000 daily. It is just due to scorching heat, we believe,” he says.

Facilities for pilgrims

  • In the sanctum sanctorum, air-conditioners are on all through the day
  • Besides the ceiling fans, a special water vapour sprinkling mechanism has been introduced
  • The carpets inside the shrine too have been replaced with special jute mats as the carpets used to emanate more heat
  • Those moving around parikrama, can take shelter in verandahs to escape sun rays

It requires courage to walk on the marbled parikrama (the path that circumscribes the sacred pool from all sides). So, SGPC staffers and volunteers keep on pouring buckets full of water from the sacred pool on the mats.

Narinder adds that it takes no time for the mats to dry up. So, we ensure these mats should remain soaked. “We have doubled the layer of mats. Normally, there used to be two-layered mats, now it’s four-layered one,” he says.

In the sanctum sanctorum, air-conditioners are on all through the day. Besides the ceiling fans, a special water vapour sprinkling mechanism has been introduced. It is fitted under the canopy that stretches from the ‘Darshani Deodi’ (the entrance gate) that leads to the sanctum sanctorum.

Here, the devotees have to wait in queues for at least 45 minutes and even more to gain entry to the sanctum sanctorum. Narinder says that this special mechanism has been introduced recently. “The water gets circulated through special pipes fitted overhead. A motor is fitted to this system that converts the water into vapours that are jet sprayed,” he says.

The carpets inside the shrine too have been replaced with special jute mats as the carpets used to emanate more heat.

Those moving around parikrama, take shelter in verandahs to escape sun rays. Here fans and coolers have been installed. “Coolers’ count too has been increased from 30 to 50 in the complex,” says Narinder. A ‘shamiana’ fitted with the water vapour sprinkling system and fans is installed on the ‘parikrama’ near the Akal Takht too. Here, the pilgrims sit and listen to the ‘Dhadi diwan’ staged by the traditional ballad singers.

Jagdish from Maharashtra said though it was scorching heat, an adequate arrangement was done for the visitors. “It’s my second visit. The water sprinkling arrangement seems to be successful in beating the heat. Similarly, hassles in walking up the parikrama are also minimised with water being thrown on it repeatedly,” he said.

New timings

The ‘kiwad’ (portals) opening time is 2 am when kirtan begins. The departure of ‘Palki Sahib’ from Akal Takht to the sanctum sanctorum is 4 am, followed by ‘Asa Di Vaar, kirtan, hukumnama’ and holy reading of ‘Rehras Sahib’ at the sunset. Sukh Asan (departure of Palki Sahib from sanctum sanctorum to Akal Takht) at 11 pm.

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#Darbar Sahib Amritsar #Golden Temple Amritsar #SGPC #Sikhs

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