Kerala: With the Sabarimala row now subsiding, there has been a rise in the number of pilgrims visiting the Lord Ayappa temple. The annual festival which is currently underway is slowly limping back to normalcy.

More than 50, 000 devotees have visited the shrine and offered prayers on Monday evening. Both Pampa and Nilackal, the base camps, witnessed a heavy rush since morning and ‘valiyanadapandal’, the queue complex at the Sannidhanam, was marked by packed devotees carrying the ‘irumudikettu’, the sacred offering to the deity.

An officer of the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), confirmed the same saying that though the official figures were yet to be released, it was the most crowded day since Sabarimala opened for the Mandalam-Makaravilakku pilgrimage season on November 16.

The TDB official said, “The number of pilgrims is steadily increasing. Over 32,000 devotees offered prayers on Sunday, while the footfall was an average of 40,000-45,000 on Friday and Saturday.”

On Sunday, as many as 60 pilgrims, who breached the security zone near Sabarimala’s ‘vavarunada’ area and started chanting prayers despite prohibitory orders, were detained by the police.

Due to previous incidents of violence at the hill-top shrine, the police had imposed strict restrictions on the devotees at Sannidhanam. The protesters were staying back near ‘vavarunada’ and chanting prayers, even as there was an imposition of Section 144 that prohibits assembly of more than four people at a spot, police said.

The shrine has been witnessing frenzied protest over the decision of the state government to implement the September 28 verdict of the Supreme Court allowing women of all ages to enter Sabarimala.