The revenue collection of the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa rose to Rs 168.84 crore during the first phase of the three-month long annual pilgrimage season.
The collection by way of contributions in the 'hundi' and tickets for various offerings and 'prasadams' from November 15 to December 25 showed an increase of Rs 20 crore compared to the corresponding period last year, Kerala Devaswom and Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran said.
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The first phase of three-month long Mandala-Makaravillaku festival at the hill shrine that began on November 15 ended with the "mandala pooja" rituals yesterday.
The temple, which draws lakhs of devotees during the pilgrimage season, would reopen on December 30 for the Makaravillaku festival, that falls on January 14.
Surendran said the revenue collection from the hill shrine would be used for development of temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board, that manages the Sabarimala shrine and would not be diverted for any other purpose.
A review meeting to take stock of the arrangements for the Makaravillaku season would soon be held in Thiruvananthapuram or at Pamba, the foot hills, and chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, he said.
Surendran said schemes to improve amenities for devotees under the Sabarimala Master Plan would be implemented on a time bound basis.
Construction work on a rope-way for Sabarimala would begin soon, said retired high court judge S Sirijagan, chairman of the court-appointed high power committee that supervises the implementation of schemes under the master plan.
He said the forest department clearance was necessary for implementing the proposed 2.7 km rope-way project connecting Pamba and the temple complex