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VIPs and plebians, all are same before Lord Venkateswara

No VIP -- no, not even the Indian President or prime minister -- will find it a red carpet walk through Tirupati's Lord Venkateswara temple anymore.

This is one of the decisions which the temple authorities have put into practice since midnight October 31. Then on, there haven't been any free entry (or red carpet treatment) for VIPs through the special cellar route -- if they want a 'faster' darshan they will have to shell out Rs 50.

The 'special entrance scheme' -- under which even non-VIPs could pay and skip the never-ending plebian queues -- was first introduced in 1974 at a Rs 25 fee. Later, it had gone up to Rs 30.

The temple administration has also raised the charge for the laddu prasadam, owing to heavy losses. From now, a laddu will sell for Rs 5, instead of the previous Rs 4.

Devotees taking the special entry will take anything from four to five hours to reach the sanctum sanctorum. Those opting for the ordinary route can expect at least a seven hour wait before the divine sighting!

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