Giri Pradakshina, the annual festival conducted at Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple at Simhachalam, Visakhapatnam, has been called off for the year 2020 year amid the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Andhra Pradesh.
Being one of the biggest yearly events in Visakhapatnam district, the procession attracts a huge number of devotees every year. Giri Pradakshina 2020 was originally slated to be held on 4 July, followed by the devotees donating chandanam to the deity on the occasion of Ashada pournami (full moon). However, owing to the spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Simhachalam Devasthanam has decided to cancel the festivities. In line with the orders issued by the temple authorities, Assistant Commissioner of Police (West Sub-division) of Visakhapatnam (City), G Swaruparani, requested the public not to visit the temple for Giri Pradakshina. She further urged the devotees to adhere to the rules and co-operate with the police.
This event comprises of the procession (devotees) walking around the Simhachalam Hill, Visakhapatnam. Giri Pradakshina is a 32 km trek which starts from Toli Pavancha, at the Simhachalam Temple steps at the entrance of the hill. It then proceeds through Adavivaram, Mudasarlova, Hanumanthavaka Junction, Visalakshinagar, Jodugullapalem, Appu Ghar, MVP Colony Double Road, Venkojipalem, HB Colony, Port Stadium, DLB Quarters, Muralinagar, Madhavadhara, NSTL, Gopalapatnam, Prahladapuram, Gosala, before returning to the Toli Pavancha. Finally, the procession will trek up the steps for the scheduled darshan of the deity.
Earlier in April, another annual celebration at Simhachalam Temple- Chandanotsavam- was held without allowing any devotees into the premises of the temple, as an effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. An intimate ceremony was performed with temple priests and staff marking their presence. However, the Simhachalam Devasthanam facilitated a live transmission of the ceremony on YouTube.