Tirupati, Aug 13: For the first time in nearly four decades, buses going to the famous Hindu temple atop Tirumala Hills were stopped on Tuesday as transport employees joined the indefinite mass strike to protest the centre's decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.
Over 1,500 buses of state-owned Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) which ply daily between Tirupati and Tirumala Venkateswara temple, went off the roads since midnight as employees joined the strike by government employees in the Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and Andhra).
This is the first time after 38 years that buses going to the famous temple were stopped, severely inconveniencing the pilgrims. The bus services to the hill shrine were always exempted from strikes by APSRTC employees to press for their demands.
Majority of 50,000 pilgrims who visit the temple every day travel by APSRTC buses. The usually busy ghat road wore a deserted look on Tuesday morning. Officials said only a few private vehicles were plying. The striking transport employees have threatened to stop private vehicles.
Some pilgrims climbed the hill to fulfill the vow. The distance between Tirupati and Tirumala temple is about nine km.
A section of employees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which looks after the temple affairs, have also joined the strike to demand the centre to drop its move to carve out separate Telangana state. Even some TTD employees were seen travelling to the temple in a tractor.
It is the richest Hindu temple in the world. More than 50,000 pilgrims visit the temple every day and the number crosses one lakh on special occasions.