Kathmandu, February 16:

Despite a ‘low turnout’ of devotees from the Terai and India to the Pashupati area on the Mahashivaratri, the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) claimed today that the number of devotees to the temple during the festival went up as compared to last year.

Nirmal Kuikel, member-secretary of the PADT, claimed that about three lakh devotees had visited the temple till 7 pm.

The PADT claimed over three lakh devotees had visited the temple till night.

The temple saw around 2.5 lakh devotees during Mahashivaratri last year, the PADT said.

The PADT opened the temple door at around 2 pm for devotees to offer puja to the Lord Shiva. Though the number of devotees was dismal in the morning, the temple saw more and more devotees during the daytime.

“Due to the chill and yesterday’s bandh, many devotees from the Tarai and India didn’t turn up in big number. More and more Kathmanduites visited the temple late in the morning and afternoon,” Kuikel said.

Kuikel claimed that, on an average, 30-40 persons offered prayers at the temple every minute.

According to the PADT, over 3,000 sadhus arrived for the festival this year. Only 1,900 sadhus had arrived for the festival last year.

While devotees lined up in short queues got into the temple in half an hour, those lining up in longer queues had to wait for over three hours to get in.

Sixty-two year-old Menuka Sibakoti, from Minbhawan, complained she had to wait for over three hours to enter the temple.

Dibya Prabha Shahi, a tourism entrepreneur, donated blankets to 24 naga babas on the occasion of Mahashivaratri on the premises of Pashupatinath Temple. “It is so cold and I felt I should present blankets to the naga babas,” she said. She also offered haluwa to the babas.