Sabarimala Mandalam-Makaravilakku season begins on November 17
District Collector P.B. Noohu, accompanied by Revenue and Forest officials, has carried out a safety audit on the traditional trekking path, cutting across the wild beast-infested forest areas of Azhutha, Mukkuzhi, and Cheriyanavattom, leading to Sabarimala on Tuesday.
The traditional forest path will turn active when pilgrims start their trek after performing the customary Petta Thullal at Erumeli, once the annual Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrim seasons begins on November 17.
Pilgrims have to tread 19 km through the forest areas of Azhutha, Kallidamkunnu, Mukkuzhi, Vellaramchetta, Manjappadithattu, Vallithodu, Puthusserry, and Karimala to reach Pampa.
The Collector got the feel of the arduous trek along the 16-km Pampa-Cheriyanavattom-Mukkuzhi stretch, treading all the way by foot, in an effort to take stock of the situation there for providing every possible basic pilgrim facility.
Mr. Noohu said pilgrims would not be permitted to enter this forest path after 3 p.m. with a view to ensuring safety. Pilgrims who would start from Azhutha at 3 p.m. would reach Pampa only by 12 midnight and it was not advisable to permit them to cross this thick forest patch during night, he said.
Mr. Noohu said the decision had been taken against the backdrop of the series of wild elephant attacks on pilgrims during the previous pilgrim season. One pilgrim was killed in the attack of a wild elephant, besides six cases of snake bites had been reported last year.
Mr.Noohu said the Forest Department and the Health Department would open four emergency medical centres at Karimala, Manjappadithattu, Puthussery, and Kallidamkunnu.
More such centres would be opened on the path, if needed, he said.
Mr. Noohu said he had already written to the government seeking an ambulance with freezer facility for transporting bodies of pilgrims in the case of death.
He said a special request seeking financial assistance for those who accompany patients in the ambulance to the hospitals from Sabarimala, Pampa and Nilackal.