July 30, 2019
Kochi: The coming pilgrimage season in Sabarimala may have more heli taxi services making travel easier and quicker. The Government proposes to open this facility to more players, creating a price war that can prove beneficial to pilgrims.
Pilgrimage to Sabarimala was once full of dangers and there was no guarantee that a pilgrim would returning safe after the treacherous conditions in the forest. many decades back.
Since the shrine has become an important destination for devotees from across the country also abroad, facilities have been improved over the years.
The plan for an airport facility was suggested by Congress leader K Karunakaran during his tenure as Chief Minister. But that remained in cold storage due to objections by the forest department.
Even as the Sabarigiri rail project proposal as also an air one hangs in balance, the government has come up with a plan to allow more participants to operate heli taxi services during the coming season. This is expected to create a price war in the sector.
Already an agency is operating air services to the shrine though the cost has remained up to Rs 1.5 lakh for the last six years.
Five persons are carried with each one paying about Rs 30,000, an official of the service told The Covai Post.
“We have ferried businessmen from different places in the south to the shrine in the past.,” he said.
The opening up of the sector to more players is likely to bring down the cost.
The plan is to take pilgrims from Kalady, about10 km from Cochin International Airport at Nedumbassery and drop them at the helipad at Nilakkal, the last campsite for pilgrims. This service is likely to come in place from November 17 to January 16.
The new service will begin at 7 am and the last trip would be at 3.15 pm. The first trip from Nilakkal will be at 7.40 pm and the last at 4.15 pm.
The company will make arrangements to take the passengers arriving at Nedumbassery airport to the helipad by car. The facility of a guide will also be arranged to take devotees from Nilakkal to ‘sannidhanam’ atop.