Lakhs of devotees thronged Tara Tarini hill shrine near Berhampur, on third Tuesday of Chaitra and on the first day of Navaratri. It may be noted that the four Tuesdays of Hindu month of Chaitra are days of festivity at this hill shrine. On this Tuesday more than five lakh devotees had reached the hill shrine. There was heavy rush as it was also day for the start of Navaratra festivities. There were visitors from other states like Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand as well as some NRI families. Following major transformation due to developmental projects taken up by the Tara Tarini Development Board (TTDB); this hill shrine has now become a major centre of religious tourism in south Orissa.
It may be noted that last year during the month of Chaitra more than 17 lakh people visited the hill shrine. The TTDB authorities hope this year the devotees would increase further. The festivities had started at this hill shrine from Monday evening. Throughout the night there were cultural programmes to entertain the visitors to the shrine. Although this hill shrine boasts to be having the only ropeway to a hilltop in the State, yet most of the devotees due to their traditional belief decided to climb to the top of the hill shrine. They walked on the ghat road or used the steep stair case. They climbed 999 steps as a penance to the deities.
A rural fair was on at the foothill. Urbanites who had reached the spot as picnickers enjoyed the village fair. Forgetting mental blockades related to hygiene for some time they relished fresh sugarcane and colourful sweets sold by the roadside vendors at this rural fair. The beautification and developmental works were taken up at the hill shrine by the TTDB from donations from the public. The State government in cooperation with the Ganjam district administration has formed the TTDB for development of this hill shrine into a major tourist destination. This board includes eminent persons of Orissa especially from southern region. The TTDB has now replaced the old temple with a new one in the traditional ‘Rekha' style of Orissa.