The participation in the Himavad Gopalswamy Betta Jatra mahotsava slated to be held from April 3 to 9 will be restricted to 30 devotees drawn from the local community.
This was announced by the district administration of Chamarajanagar and the Forest Department who said that the restrictions are to prevent large congregation amidst the second wave of the pandemic that has set in.
The authorities said Himavad Gopalswamy Betta Jatra tends to draw a huge crowd every year, particularly for the Kalyanothsava slated for April 5 and Rathothsava on April 6.
Gopalswamy Betta is in the core area of Bandipur Tiger Reserve and the temple atop the hills is a popular spot among the tourists and the devout.
But in view of the escalation in the cases of COVID-19 and the second wave that is already unfolding the authorities have decided to restrict the participation to 30 persons per day and drawn from the local community.
Besides the COVID-19 scare, this is also the peak fire season and the Forest Department was already stretched to its capacity having deployed a majority of its staff on fire watching duty. Hence the authorities said they cannot provide adequate protection to the gathering and it was decided to ban the entry of outsiders for the religious event. Two years ago, the entire swathe of forest in the Gopalswamy Betta was reduced to cinders due to a massive outbreak of fire. It was put out with the help of IAF choppers who used bambi buckets to air drop large quantity of water to douse the flames.