Anantapur: Covid-19 pandemic has not even spared divine abodes with two lockdowns hitting temple revenues hard. Many famous and historical temples are finding it hard to pay salaries to priests and other workers in the district.
Temples under endowment and Central archaeological departments are facing worse conditions due to poor flow of devotees for the past one-and-a-half years. Most of the historic temples date back to Cholas, Pallavas and Vijayanagara empires era in the region and have devotees not only from AP and Telangana but from neighbouring states as well.
Lord Narasimha Swamy temple in Kadiri town in the district witnessed poor income following Covid pandemic. The temple has devotees from various states and more than three lakhs take part in Brahma Rathotsavam every year. Devotees rush continues throughout the year in the temple. However, during the pandemic, except during Brahma Rathotsavam, all remaining days witnessed poor rush of devotees.
The daily income of the temple used to be at least Rs 1 lakh every day during normal days, but came down to a few hundred rupees in these times of pandemic.
Complete lockdown in Karnataka had an impact on temple revenue as devotees were unable to stay comfortably during the second wave. The temple got Rs 4.96 lakh in May and Rs 6.50 lakh in June while it was Rs 20.85 lakh in April following annual Brahmotsavams.
The temple has only four priests on a regular basis while 10 more serve at various sections and they depend on daily collections and offerings from devotees. The department pays salary only for the regular priests. Kadiri temple alone has 27 regular employees and 16 on contract and outsourcing services and Rs 18 lakh is needed every month towards their salaries.
Another historic shrine Lord Siddeswara Swamy temple at Hemavati in Amarapuram mandal located closer to Karnataka borders is unable to attract devotees from Karnataka due to Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown conditions. The temple is under the control of Archaeological Survey of India and was opened to the public in April, but is unable to get minimum income due to complete lockdown in Karnataka. The 11th century temple has majority devotees from Karnataka. Similar situation prevails at Lepakshi, which houses the world’s biggest Nandi statue, as there is a poor turnout of devotees and tourists.
The five-century old Kasapuram Nettikanti Hanuman temple at Kasapuram in Guntakal mandal is also facing Covid impact. A priest in this temple succumbed to Covid during the first wave. The biggest Hanuman temple in the region is undergoing hard times, due to the ongoing pandemic situation.