Devotees pouring into Vemulawada for darshan at the historic Sri Raja Rajeshwara Swamy devasthanam often need more than just divine intervention for a comfortable overnight stay in the temple town.
Given the ‘inadequate’ number of rooms maintained by devasthanam authorities, several outstation devotees are forced to look for accommodation in private hotels and lodges. What’s worse, due to lack of tariff regulation, owners of private spaces charge over the roof, forcing the devotees to pay through their nose.
Normally, private hotels charge anywhere between ₹500 and ₹1,000 a day, but on Sundays, auspicious Mondays and during the festival season, the daily room tariff shoots up to over ₹2,000.
In such a scenario, devotees do not have much choice but to loosen their purse strings. Due to non-availability of a dormitory, pilgrims of limited means are forced to take rest under the sky outside the temple complex.
The Vemulawada devasthanam has a total of 444 non-AC rooms — 26 at Rajeshwarapuram, 75 at Parvathipuram, 93 at Laxmi Ganapathi, 47 at Shivapuram, 62 at Shankarapuram, 63 at Nandeeshwara and 47 AC rooms, including eight suites, at Ammavari guest house — where the charges range from ₹50 to ₹300 a day. AC room charges, on the other hand, are anywhere between ₹750 and ₹2,500 daily.
To provide better accommodation to devotees, TTD authorities, who have 20 rooms, took up renovation of their facilities some five years ago, but those remain locked.
Similarly, the temple authorities had started constructing additional 60 rooms in a three-storey building at a cost of ₹4 crore four years ago, but the work has been progressing at a snail’s pace.
Another reason that prompts devotees from approaching private hotels and lodges for a comfortable stay is the poor sanitation and erratic water supply at the facilities maintained by the devasthanam.
A devotee from Hyderabad viisting the tenple town says, “Vemulawada temple has been fetching the highest income for the State endowments department. But, I am shocked to see that the facilities for the pilgrims at the devasthanam-maintained rooms are quite poor and inadequate.”
Tilak Rao, a devotee from Vijayawada, complains, “There is no proper regulation of rentals in the private lodges. They are charging money arbitrarily whenever the pilgrim rush surges.”
Temple authorities, on their part, say the accommodation problems would be tackled with the completion of Bheemeshwara complex and TTD rooms. However, they refrained from commenting on allegations of poor sanitation in rooms.