With over 35 lakh visitors expected for the Mahamastakabhisheka Jain festival that takes place once in 12 years, railway officials are on the overdrive to ensure passenger adequate amenities at the tiny Shravanabelgola railway station.A huge chunk of passengers are expected to reach the venue through rail, particularly in light of the railway line connecting Nelamangala with Shravanabelegola that was commissioned in March this year.
While the key days of the Mahamashtabhisekha festival (Grand Consecration) run from February 17 to 26, devotees and VIPs are expected to start pouring into this town right from mid-January to early March.
Sharavanabelegola railway station, being an ‘E’ category one wherein sale of less than 100 train tickets takes place daily, the passenger amenities here are in the process of being upgraded completely to cater to the crowds expected.
Four pairs of trains from Yesvanthpur pass through the Sharvanabelegola station daily. “We have now requested the Railway Board to permit us to run an additional four pairs of trains to the station at the earliest, “a top railway official of the Bangalore Railway Division said.Within the railway station, extra canteen stalls and food plazas are being built. “We will be deploying additional ticket checking staff there next year and will be creating extra parking facilities near the station,” the official said. Railways have also requested Ola, which does not run its services in the town, to open counters at the railway station temporarily to help transport passengers.Officials are expecting the transport aggregator to respond positively.
Rakesh Singh, Special Officer for the Mahamastakabhisheka festival, told that infrastructure was being beefed up across the town.“The State government has provided `200 crore for the event. We are upgrading infrastructure all over so that the town will have a permanent benefit from hosting the event. Roads, hospitals, the KSRTC bus stand, the water supply and underground drainage system are all getting a major facelift.” A separate area, Tyagi Nagar, has been readied to house the spiritual heads of the Jain community, he added.
South Western Railway (SWR) has taken a few development works to help passengers visiting Shravanabelagola in Channarayapatna taluk during Mahamastakabhisheka to be held in February. Senior officials of SWR Bengaluru division, including Divisional Railway Manager R.S. Saxena, visited the place on Tuesday.
The team visited the railway station in Shravanabelagola and met Charukeerti Bhattaraka Swamy of the Jain Mutt.
Senior Divisional Manager (Commercial) Sridharamurthy told presspersons that KSRTC would be appealed to provide bus services from the railway station to different locations in Shravanabelagola during Mahamastakabhisheka. The service of local buses would be required as the railway station is located far from the pilgrimage centre. “We have decided to prepare the ground around the station to park nearly 2,000 vehicles. A road to the station would be upgraded and a ramp would be built for the benefit of senior citizens and physically-challenged,” he said.
Additional ticket booking centres, restrooms, and a drinking water dispenser would be installed in the railway station. Around 200 security personnel would be hired for ensuring the safety of the passengers during the mega event, he said.