Three women were killed and 35 others injured when a stampede broke out early on Saturday at the Salkanpur Devi Temple in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh.
At around 4.30 am, a few women suddenly slipped and fell on the staircase leading to the temple, situated atop the Vindhyachal mountain range, nearly 120 km from Sehore district headquarters, eyewitnesses said.
Nearly four lakh devotees had gathered in the temple's vicinity during the ongoing Navratri festival to offer prayers.
However, police claimed that it was not a stampede.
The deceased were identified as - Bhuria Bai, 35, Rani, 15, and Yashoda, 35, said the police.
Among the injured, six people were admitted to a hospital in Bhopal, 10 in Hoshangabad and the others in Rehti government hospital of Sehore district.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced an ex-gratia of Rs two lakh each to the kin of the deceased and Rs 25,000 each to the injured people.
Since the temple is situated on a hill top, the devotees reach there either by the stairs, by road or by a ropeway.
As the ropeway was closed, the devotees could reach the temple only by road and stairs, sources said.
The temple witnesses a huge rush of devotees during the Navratri festival.