As Hindus across the country observed Vaikunta Ekadasi 2018 festival on Tuesday, an estimated over 1.5 lakh devotees and a large number of VIPs from different parts of the country thronged the famous hill temple of Venkateswara dedicated to Lord Balaji at nearby Tirumala. The "Vaikunta Ekadasi" festival is considered most auspicious by many believers.
The pilgrims started arriving in the town to pray at the ancient shrine of Lord Venkateswara since Monday evening. They stood in long queues before being allowed into the ancient shrine for darshan that began early Tuesday.
The devotees and the VIPs offered prayers and passed through the sacred "Vaikunta Dwarams" (passage) around the shrine. The temple is opened only on the Vaikunta Ekadasi day. Special rituals were conducted.
The high priests adorned the idol of the presiding deity with several special diamonds set golden ornaments, including the big diamond crown, for the special occasion.
A golden chariot procession of the 'Utasav' idol of the Lord was taken out around the over 2000-year-old shrine to the chants of "Govinda, Govinda" by the devotees.
The VIPs included Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, his son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's wife Shobha and relative and minister T Harish Rao.