SABARIMALA: Pilgrims have begun arriving in hundreds as the 10-day summer festival of the famous hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa began here Saturday.
A severe water crunch at the base camp Pampa and the temple uphill, however, is posing difficulties to the devotees, most of whom are from the neighbouring states.
The holy river Pampa, where pilgrims take a dip before starting the uphill trek, is totally dried up.
Taking a dip in the Pampa is an essential part of the pilgrimage. Unfortunately there is no water in the river, a devotee from Tamil Nadu said.
The temple sources said they have urged the irrigation department to open check dams upstream to ease the situation.
The temple management had imposed some restrictions in allotting accommodations at Sannidhanam in view of the situation.
The Travnacore Devaswom Board had urged devotees to return home soon after offering worship instead of camping at the temple premises.
The festival began with the thanthri-- traditional high priest-- hoisting the temple flag.