Vijayawada wore a festive look on Friday as lakhs of pilgrims arrived in the city to take part in the Krishna Pushkaram river festival, which began on Friday. More than 3.5 crore people are expected to take a holy dip over the next two weeks at the Krishna River Festival which takes place once in 12 years. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu with his wife Bhuvaneswari took a holy dip Krishna river at Durga ghat along with Kanchi seer Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswati.
After the stampede on the opening day of Godavari Pushkaralu at Rajamahendravaram last year, the Chief Minister stayed away from any fanfare this time and the Durga ghat was closed for common people for the inaugural event. Devotees swarmed the hill shrine of Goddess Kanaka Durga, the presiding deity of Vijayawada, and offered special prayers.
One of the key attractions for the pilgrims is a replica of the Tirupati Venkateswara temple constructed by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board (TTD) at PWD grounds in Vijayawada. Elaborate arrangements have been made to distribute free food to over 1 lakh devotees every day during the Pushkaram. Police deployed drones to keep a vigil at all Pushkar ghats while the government administration is using mobile applications to monitor every aspect, including crowd management, related to the event.
Krishna Pushkaram is conducted in Srisailam, Guntur and Krishna districts of AP where the river flows. In all, 170 bathing ghats have been readied for the event in which a total of 3.5 crore devotees are expected to take part over the 12 days.