A group of Hindu pilgrims in southern India who were on their way to a hugely popular pilgrimage destination were surprised to discover that a stray dog was following them on their trek, and managed to cover a distance of 480 kilometres within 18 days.
The pilgrims set out from Tirumala, a temple town in southern Andhra Pradesh, and made their way to Sabarimala in Kerala on foot, covering a distance of about 530 kilometres. A stray dog started following them in Tirumala and was spotted as they reached Chikkamangaluru district in southern Karnataka on Sunday (17 November); their new companion was still following them.
#WATCH Karnataka: A stray dog has been following a group of 13 Ayyappa devotees, who are on a pilgrimage to Kerala's Sabarimala & has walked 480 km so far. The devotees started from Andhra Pradesh's Tirumala on Oct 31 & have reached Chikkamagaluru dist's Kottigehara now. (17.11) pic.twitter.com/9ke8uFwRCt— ANI (@ANI) November 18, 2019
The brown dog, who was wearing a collar, moved along with the small group, despite limping. Several of the pilgrims believed it was a divine spirit and fed it wherever they stopped for food, admiring the animal's tenacity.
Sabarimala Temple has been in the news recently,; the Supreme Court of India decided to review its own judgement permitting women of all ages to enter the place of worship. Traditionally, women do not trek to the temple, which is located in the midst of a forest on a hilly terrain, which is open to the annual trip between mid-November and mid-January every year. Millions of pilgrims, mostly from southern India, visit the temple, which is dedicated to a celibate deity named Lord Ayyappa.
While the top court refused to revise its original decision of September 2018, it referred the issue to a larger bench on the larger issue of entry of women entering the shrines of all religions.