Taking cognisance of the fact that Maharashtra has reported the most number of coronavirus positive cases in the country, authorities in the state have decided to shut down the Siddhivinayak and Tuljabhavani temples for devotees. Also, the Ajanta and Elora caves will be closed for tourists.
The Siddhivinayak Temple, one of the most visited shrines in Mumbai, will remain closed for devotees till further notice in view of the coronavirus outbreak in Maharashtra, it was announced on Monday.
The Tuljabhavani Temple, another popular shrine in Maharashtra located in Osmanabad district, will remain shut for devotees from March 17 to 31, an official told.
The world-famous Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad, will also remain closed in view of the coronavirus situation in the state, officials said.
The decision comes in the backdrop of the Maharashtra government appealing to people to avoid crowding and mass gatherings as part of measures to prevent spread of the viral infection.
The Siddhivinayak Temple in Prabhadevi, dedicated to Lord Ganesh, attracts hundreds of devotees everyday and is especially crowded on Tuesdays.
Siddhivinayak Temple trust chairman Adesh Bandekar said the number of coronaviruscases is increasing rapidly worldwide.
"Thousands and lakhs of people come to the Siddhivinayak Temple to pay respect. In the current situation, it is our responsibility to deal with the crisis (coronavirus outbreak).
"Hence, the trust has decided that the temple will be closed for worship till further notice," said Bandekar.
Maharashtra has till now reported 39 positive cases of the novel coronavirus. Pimpri-Chinchwad has the most 9 cases, Pune 7, Mumbai 6, Nagpur 4, Yawatmal 3, Kalyan 3, Navi Mumbai 3, while Raigad, Thane, Ahmednagar, Aurangabad have reported one case each.
In spite of the coronavirus outbreak, 13,000 devotees visited the Tuljabhavani Temple on Sunday, the shrine's Assistant Public Relations Officer, Nagesh Shitole, told PTI.
"Hence, a meeting of the managing committee was held today and it was decided to shut the temple for devotees from Tuesday (March 17) to March 31," he said.
(With PTI inputs)