Two days ago, I was in Simhachalam. That was my second visit to the temple. Because it was a Saturday and Panchami, the rush was massive in the temple. We decided to have a Darshan through the 100 rupee Special Darshan. It was a very big mistake. It took almost half an hour for us to understand where the line starts. Walking all around, irritated, when I asked in the reception, they pointed me in a direction, while there is a door just beside the reception through which you can join the line. And when I entered the door which was suggested to me, there was a board there, on the wrong wall, but with no directions on it. I just followed a group of people and it turned out that the people took a wrong turn. Had I gone right, I would have joined the line in 100 metres, but because I turned left, I had to walk almost two kilometres to join the line.
‌That’s not the end of the game. It turned out that everyone was breaking the line and rushing forward. When the barricades actually started, the situation was that there was a mob trying to push it’s way into a single file. The indiscipline of the people there and their hurry to rush forth is really fascinating. It was really sad to see the free darshan line more organized. After a mad rush of half an hour, we entered the single file. Now, the turn of the temple management came to defraud the people. The barricades for the 100 rupee line were longer than the 20 rupee line. Did they think that because of the rush, they thought, more people will hit the costlier queue and played along by making them queue for a longer duration/stuffed more people into a longer queue? Some told me a similar thing happened during this year’s Chandanotsavam – 1000 rupee queue took longer time than a 200 rupee queue. The situation inside the temple was slightly better. The Darshan was superb, with the lord covered with Chandanam and decked in diamonds.
‌One thing you will notice in Simhachalam is the clinical precession with which the statues were defaced. Almost every statue in the outer level is destroyed and some in the inner levels. Whatever survived the carnage are masterpieces of art, every one of them.
‌This raises a question who did it and how did the main idol survive the carnage. It is attested there was no Puja in the temple for around 40 years during the general period of the Bobbili War due to Muslim depredations but that doesn’t explain how the main idol survived. This destruction raises a very pertinent question – why are we that shameless to conduct Pujas in destroyed temples? It’s been 70 years India achieved independence. Why are we not in a position to correct this historic injustice? What is stopping us from restoring our temples to their past glory? Are we really looking at them as temples or just as some money spinning business ventures run by the government? This is something which needs to be addressed immediately.
‌Darshan done, even the exit queue was as haphazard as like the mob at the start of barricades. Skipping the line for the Prasadam, we exited the temple. It’s not the Rajagopuram, but a side exit. What do we see there? Public toilets and water flowing on to the roads. This left an even sourer taste in my mouth. Why are we that callous? Is working in temple Seva or business? That’s not the end of the story.
‌I tried to find out where the temple bookstall is. I was desperately searching for a particular book and for three months people were searching all Vizag for that book, but to no avail. It turned out that the book stall is a table in the reception. Luckily, I got the book I wanted. Now, the next round of ineptitude. The person sitting in the counter doesn’t know the cost of the books. He had to call someone else to get the costs.
Why? Why are we in such a situation? Why are we not taking care of our religion and heritage? A temple thousand years old would have been the apple of their eye in any country in the world. But not in India? What will take to correct this callousness and unreasonable ineptitude? Should we wait for time to heal the wounds or should we try to take the bull by the horns?

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