A couple of days after several pilgrims were feared washed away while crossing the river Cauvery near Elagalli in Kanakapura of Ramnagar district, the search operation continued on Saturday.
While the body of an elderly woman was fished out, operation is on to locate others. The identity of the woman is yet to be established.
The incident took place on Thursday evening when the pilgrims were crossing the river to reach the Male Mahadeshwara hills with the help of a rope which snapped due to overcrowding.
According to sources, though many were washed away in the river but the district authority is yet to be come up with an official statement regarding the tragedy.
Thousands of pilgrims from across the state and neighbouring Tamil Nadu arrive in Elagalalli one week before Maha Shivratri festival to reach the Male Mahadeshwara hills. From Elagalli village, they reach the temple atop Male Mahadeshwara hills on foot. On the way, they cross the River Cauvery. The pilgrims walk through Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary for about 30 kilometers to reach the destination.
There are no boats or bridge facility in the river. The forest department has connected the two ends of the river with a rope. The pilgrims cross the river holding the rope. According to sources, the tragedy occurred when the rope snapped owing to too much pressure.
The place where the tragedy took place falls between Chamarajanagar and Ramnagar districts. Since it falls under jurisdiction of the wildlife sanctuary, developmental activity to connect the places are prohibited. The pilgrimage is being carried out for hundreds of years and there is growing demand from devotees for temporary shelters which could be wound up after the Shivratri festival.
As per eyewitnesses, the rope snapped and due to the force of the water, many got washed away in the river, while several others were rescued,” they said.
Following the tragedy, the authorities have decreased the proportion of water being released into the river. Though public entry is prohibited within the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, the religious pilgrimage is allowed as it has been a tradition for many years.
The officers have been asked to take precautionary measures to ensure no such tragedy occurs. Both district administration and forest department have jointly ensured the safety of pilgrims. The identity of the elderly lady is yet to be established.