CHENNAI: In any family, the second child is always more popular than the first born, perhaps because the latter is considered responsible and hence, more serious. Well, looks like this Universal principle applies to the Gods as well, as Lord Muruga garners a greater number of pilgrims to his abodes across Tamil Nadu than any other deity.
Also known as Lord Subramania, this second son of gods Shiva and Parvathi seems to be the clear leader in attracting pilgrims based in the State. A strong contention is brewing between Muruga’s abodes in Tiruchendur and Palani in attracting the local tourists and pilgrims, with Mother Nature favouring Palani with the serene background of the Western Ghats as one of the primary tourist attractions.
Going by the data available with HR &CE and tourism departments, footfall in all abodes of Muruga and Amman had increased from 100 to 150 per cent this summer.
Currently, the Muruga temple in Palani attracts a minimum of 60,000 visitors daily, a sharp increase from its regular daily average of 30,000 footfalls. Second place goes to Subramaniya Swami temple in Tiruchendur, which had also witnessed a sharp rise from its daily average of 18,000 to the current recording of 38,000-43,000 footfalls. Namma Chennai’s Vadapalani temple takes third place, recording 20,000 visitors daily.
According to the booking and enquiry data available with the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC), the tourism sector is bouncing back in the Dravidian heartland with TN deities leading from the front and attracting the crowd during this summer season. The overall bookings had doubled and tripled this season while Palani is attracting pilgrims from southern states. Tiruchendur tops the list in attracting devotees from southern Tamil Nadu. Madurai Meenakshi Amman maintains an average of 30,000 visitors.
“Maintenance of temples and associated pilgrim tourism is a key area for TN. After the COVID lockdowns, the big temples and TTDC accommodations are subject to maintenance and most of them are spruced up. Better access roads and facilities are also enhanced for the pilgrims,” said HR&CE secretary B Chandramohan.
Moreover, the State had identified 54 temples for a new façade and gopurams. “New mandapams, prasadham centres and basic amenities have also been improvised in the identified areas,” he added. “The tourism department is confident in performing better in the current fiscal.”
“While devotees based in southern districts rush to Tiruchendur, tourists and devotees from Kerala and Karnataka visit Palani hills,” a TTDC manager in Chennai said.
Kancheepuram and Kumbakkonam are other crucial areas attracting crowds and the rooms are busy during festival time and weekends. Kanchi Kamakshi and Varadarajah Perumal are also the main attraction for pilgrims. Tamil Nadu, after the COVID-induced constraints and restrictions, is back on the track as one of the top pilgrim states.
Season Special for tourists
To utilise the holidays during summer, Season Special tours are arranged for Ooty, Kodaikanal, Theni and Kerala where the TTDC crew leaves Chennai on Friday night. Tourists will be back in the city on Monday around 6 am. The booking numbers are yet to reach optimum level due to COVID regulations, tours operators with TTDC said.
“We are hoping that the COVID cases are under control so that the tourism sector soon breaches the 2019 records soon,” another official noted. “As usual, Ooty, Kodaikanal, and Yercaud are now witnessing more enquires due to the peak season and the trend will continue till July,” the official added.