Sri Lankan president prays at Tirupathi

Hyderabad, Oct 31 ( Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday offered prayers at the famous Lord Venkateshwara temple at Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh.

Rajapaksa arrived in a special aircraft from Nepal, where he was on a pilgrimage, and after a ‘darshan’ at the temple atop Tirumala Hills left for Sri Lanka, officials said.

Accompanied by his wife and some officials, the Sri Lankan president landed at Renigunta airport near Tirupathi and drove straight to the world’s richest Hindu temple.

The dignitary was welcomed by Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam (TTD) chairman D.K. Adikeshavulu Naidu and the priests amid the chanting of Vedic hymns.

Rajapaksa entered the sanctum sanctorum through ‘mahadwaram’ or main door and offered prayers. Top priests blessed the couple.

However, the entry of Rajapaksa and 25 others through ‘mahadwaram’ created a row.

Some religious leaders criticised the TTD authorities for allowing him through ‘mahadwaram’ in violation of TTD rules.

They pointed out that under TTD rules only mothers with infants, the aged, infirm and physically challenged can have direct entry through ‘mahadwaram’.

The entry of some VIPs through the main door had created a controversy in the past and the government had directed TTD to stop rolling out red carpet for VIPs and focus on providing better facilities to ordinary devotees.