For the first time in India, the famous Sai Baba temple in Shirdi is planning to install travelators, or moving walkways like the ones at airports, to facilitate quick and hassle-free darshan for thousands of devotees who visit the shrine daily.
The project, tentatively estimated to cost Rs 60 crore, is planned at the old 'prasadalay', a short distance away from the main temple complex, where the larger-than-life size statue of Sai Baba is installed. It is expected to cut waiting time for darshan to less than an hour.
"On an average, more than 50,000 devotees from India and abroad throng the temple daily for Sai Baba's darshan. On special days, festivals and vacation seasons, the figure goes up over 10 times," said Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust Shirdi (SSST) chairman Jayant Sasane.
The huge rush forces the devotees to wait in long queues, sometimes up to 10-12 hours, for a glimpse of Sai Baba.
"It is very tiring for senior citizens, sick and handicapped persons or pregnant women to wait for such long hours for a brief darshan. We hope that the travelator will reduce the waiting time to less than one hour per batch of devotees," added Sasane.
Architect Hafeez Contractor has been signed up to prepare a master plan for the new darshan complex. Sasane said that until the plans were finalised, it would not be possible to estimate how many travelators would be required.
Automated systems like travelators would eliminate jostling for space and a chance to get a view of the idol of Sai Baba.
The travelators would move slowly at a certain speed, covering a certain distance, and afford all its occupants a few minutes of darshan, he added.
50,000 The number of devotees that throng the temple daily for Sai Baba's darshan