The annual Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Giri Pradakshina event, conducted at the Simhachalam Temple in Visakhapatnam, has been called off in 2021. The decision was taken considering the pandemic situation in the city. The Giri Pradakshina was cancelled last year as well when the Devasthanam officials had decided to call off the festival celebrations. The Covid-19 situation has now subsided compared to the last few months. However, to avoid the spread of the virus, before the third wave of the pandemic begins, Devasthnam Executive Officer (EO), MV Surya Kala, has informed the public that only the darshan would be available but no Giri Pradakshina.
Giri Pradakshina is one of the biggest yearly events in the Visakhapatnam District, seeing lakhs of devotees come to Simhachalam. The devotees take a pradakshina (ritual of walking around a shrine, image, idol or sacred place) of the temple, and then, donate chandanam to the deity on the occasion of Ashada Pournami (full moon). Giri Pradakshina is a 32km walk around the Simhachalam Temple, starting from Toli Pavancha, at the Simhachalam Temple steps, then proceeding 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 Toli Pavancha. After completion of the Pradakshina, devotees take the steps for the Lord’s darshan.
In a press release, Mr. Surya Kala stated that tickets for darshan on Saturday, 24 July are being given from Thursday, 22 July. Meanwhile, walking routes to Simhachalam will be closed on 22, and 23, July with only vehicles allowed. On 24 July, devotees will be allowed for darshan from 6 am to 2 pm. No one will be allowed after 3 pm on Simhachalam Hill. To avoid rush at the queue lines, tickets priced at Rs 100, Rs 300, and Rs 2500, will be made available at the ticket counters located at the bottom of the hill. Apart from the four prasadam counters, four additional counters have been arranged to avoid the rush. VIPs will be allowed only during break darshan.
Devasthanam authorities have asked the City Police Commissioner to arrange for police security, from 6 am on 23 July to 10 am on 24 July, at major areas around the temple such as Old Gosala, Adavivaram and Tholipavancha Junctions. This is to prevent any devotee from taking the Giri Pradakshina in 2021.