WAITING LINE MANAGEMENT IN A
LARGE PILGRIMAGE CENTER IN INDIA:
A CASE STUDY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The product and its delivery 5
The value chain 6
Approaches to managing the support systems 7
Management of Darshan Queue 8
Conclusion and Recommendations11
This article documents an innovative approach to manage waiting line in the largest pilgrimage center in the world. By a judicious combination of process orientation and advances in Information Technology, the pilgrimage center's management has been able to dramatically change the pilgrims waiting experience.
The pilgrimage location under study is Tirumala located in Andhra Pradesh state in India. The number of visitors to this important location has been steadily increasing over time. As of 2011, the location attracted approximately 30 to 40 million visitors a year.
The primary objective of a pilgrim visiting Tirumala is to have darshan of the principle deity in the temple. The secondary objectives include tonsure (shaving head as a mark of respect), offering donations, prasadam collection, thulabaram, arjitha seva (paid services), local sightseeing and shopping.
The immense popularity of the temple and its location poses significant challenges to the management of the system. This temple is a tradition bound Institution. Therefore, some alternatives to resolve pilgrim waiting time are feasible and some are not. There are some hard constraints which may not stand the test of logic.
The ability to manage the traffic volume is a function of processing rate (darshan duration) at the temple and darshan time available per day.
This case study is an example of improving operational effectiveness by using formal management methods in addressing an important real life problem in an under researched area.
This pilgrimage center is located in the extension of Western Ghats and is popularly known as Tirumala. It is considered to be the abode of Lord Vishnu in the form of Venkateswara. The temple is the richest pilgrimage center, after the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, of any faith (at more than 50,000 crore) and the most-visited place of worship in the world. This center attracts a large number of visitors from all over the country irrespective of their caste, religion, belief, social status and professional affiliation. The temple is visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims daily (30 to 40 million people annually on average), while on special occasions and festivals, like the annual Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500,000, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.
The temple is on Venkatadri (also known as Venkatachala or Venkata Hill), the seventh peak, and is also known as the "Temple of Seven Hills". Venkatadri, the hillock residing place of Lord Venkateswara is probably one of the oldest religious institutions in India. It is known to exist for over a period of 2000 years. It has a recorded history of thousand years. Based on the recorded history, the rituals and daily routines in this sacred temple are being performed without a break for more than 1000 years.
Over a period of time Venkatadri has evolved as an epicenter of Vaishnavism. Several prominent Hindu religious institutions either have established a presence in Venkatadri or have made this as place of their administrative headquarters. Today, Venkatadri is not only a religious institution, but it has also evolved as a social institution. It supports financially a group of thirty (higher) educational institutions. Its mission is to systematically promote the study of Vedas and Sanskrit literature. The temple also provides generous financial support for construction of...