Visakhapatnam: The annual 'Giri Pradakshina' at Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Devasthanam in Simhachalam has been cancelled this year too. Keeping the prevailing pandemic condition in view, Endowments officials decided against organising Giri Pradakshina.Lakhs of devotees including children, women and senior citizens take part in the annual ritual, which begins from 'Tolipavancha' in Simhachalam downhill. Scores of devotees from North Andhra districts and Odisha take part in the ritual. The trek passes through Adavivaram, Arilova, Hanumanthwaka, Appughar, MVP Colony, Port Stadium, Kancharapalem, Madhavadhara, NAD Junction, Gopalapatnam, Prahladapuram, Srinivasa Nagar and Goshala before culminating at Tolipavancha.
Those who could not trek the 32-km-long stretch, can make 108 pradakshinas in the temple itself as the priests mention that the ritual yields similar results as Giri Pradakshina. However, last year too, the temple remained closed and devotees were not allowed for darshan. But this year, devotees will be allowed for darshan as there is no partial curfew in place. But officials opine that there is a possibility of people arriving for the trek.
To prevent it, temple authorities will seek the support of the police and barricades will be placed at various points, including, the stairway used towards uphill for the darshan. "Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the temple authorities have decided not to allow the devotees for Pradakshina. But the darshan will remain open for the devotees on July 23 (regular darshan timings) and 24 till 3 pm," said Executive Officer (EO) of the temple M V Surya Kala. The final sandalwood offering to Lord Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy will be held on July 24. Devotees must adhere to safety protocols, the EO added.