Offerings of money and gold at this world's richest temple have fallen by over one-third of its total because of the ongoing agitation against dividing Andhra Pradesh by giving statehood to the Telangana region. Adding to the troubles of devotees, the staff at the temple also joined in a 48-hour strike last week.
The average daily offering declined 36% over the past month to Rs 1.5 crore, officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh, said. While the average daily revenue at the temple is Rs 2.35 crore, the hill shrine reported its highest ever single-day collection of Rs 5.73 crore on April 1 last year. The daily earnings of Lord Balaji include cash, gold, silver and other precious offerings.
Staff at the temple also joined in a 48-hour strike last week
According to the Economic Times reports, the average number of devotees visiting the hill shrine plunged nearly half to some 30,000 a day. This temple possesses over 1,000 tonnes of gold and gold jewellery worth Rs 52,000 crore and has parked over Rs 10,000 crore with banks in the form of term deposits. The temple trust also owns thousands of acres of land across the country which is estimated to be worth some Rs 90,000 crore.
Transport services to ferry devotees have been affected because of a strike by staff from the coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema regions at the state's road transport corporation.
Some 2,500 private cabs were off the roads in Tirumala and dozens of hotels and restaurants were also shut. Because of the temple, Andhra Pradesh was India's top tourist destination last year, attracting over 20 crore domestic tourists. The temple board's chairman Kanumuri Bapiraju said in March that it is expecting a revenue target of Rs 2,160 crore for the current fiscal, including Rs 859 crore in offerings from devotees.