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Thursday, March 20, 2014

forest fire at holy Thirumala hills....

For Sri Vaishnavaites, the  purpose of birth is kainkaryam to Emperuman and his devotees – One needs to do kainkaryam at His abode ~ great it would be, when that happens to be a Divyadesam – the great place sung by Azhwargal.  The most  beautiful temple of Lord Srinivasa at Thirumala Tirupathi in its present form owes a lot to the works of the greatest Vaishnava Acharya – Sri Ramanujar.  The very thought of Tirumala and chanting the name of Lord of Seven Hills would cleanse our souls.

Thirumala has existed for Centuries and Lord Venkateshwara will provide all riches, all wealth and all goodness to all His believers. Thiruvengadam, the abode of Lord Balaji is the  ‘Thilakam’ the shining glory of the whole Earth.  All that we need to do is to pray towards the Greatest Lord of Universe from wherever we are, think of HIM always and do good to humanity in Thy Name. Lakhs of devotees of all ages, from all over the Country and from other parts of the World throng to the hills, by walk, by vehicles of various hues and wait in the queue for hours to have a glimpse of the Lord.

Thirumala the abode of Lord Balaji (Srinivasar / Ezhumalaiyaan and lot more) is a hill town, in Chittoor district of Andhrapradesh. Tirumala is located 3,200 feet (980 m) above sea level and covers an area of approximately 10.33 square miles (26.8 km2). Surrounding the hills are seven peaks of Seshachalam range, Eastern Ghats namely Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The temple of Sri Venkateswara is on the seventh peak (Venkatadri).  The Seshāchalam Hills is a mountain range that spreads in parts of Chittoor and Kadapa districts, has been designated as Seshāchalam Biosphere Reserve.  

A massive fire in Seshachalam forests that broke out on Tuesday(18.3.14) is reported to be raging still. Officials of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the temple, said they were trying to deploy helicopters to control the fire which has already destroyed forests spread over thousands of hectares.  Newspaper reports quoting TTD executive officer MG Gopal state that the  fire at Kakula Konda has not yet come under control. Personnel from fire services, forest, police and various wings of the TTD were trying to control the fire that broke out near the sandalwood plantation, about three km from the temple. The fire has also threatened a wind power plant located in the forest.

It is reported that the raging forest fire in the ecologically sensitive Seshachalam biosphere destroyed vast tracts of greenery and threatened to spread to pedestrian pathways leading to the Tirumala shrine even as officials decided to use two C130 aircraft for chemical spraying to douse the fire. Now reports state that 2  MI-17 helicopters will assess the damage on Thursday to decide further strategies to fight the blaze. Moreover, the Air Force has agreed to send four helicopters and 100 personnel to Tirumala. Governor ESL Narasimhan also held discussions with the TTD and forest officials, and alerted the chiefs of air force and naval authorities for help. The Centre is also rushing director general of forests and director general of fire services from Delhi to oversee the firefighting operations.

the photo above : credits : The Hindu

As the uncontrollable blaze spread through the forest, authorities blocked the roads leading to Papavinasanam and asked for aerial assistance from the Government to put out the forest fire, described as one of the fiercest in the recent times. Sources said, military choppers from Hakimpet in Hyderabad and from Chennai have been asked to be kept ready to scramble to Tirumala at a short notice to meet any kind of emergency. Some reports state that thousands of hectares of forest land have been reduced to ashes in the devastating fire that started Tuesday afternoon.

As thick smoke enveloped the hills, shops around the temple  have been shut and the two pathways to the temple for devotees have reportedly been closed. Temple officials said they were taking all steps for the safety of devotees so that wild animals on the run due to fire do not attack pilgrims on pathways. Praying to Thiruvengadamudaiyan that the situation comes under control soon.

With prayers – Srinivasan Sampathkumar.

20th Mar 2014

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