Sabarimala (Kerala), Nov 19: Those desiring their picture on a Rs 5 postage stamp only need to visit the post office close to the famed Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
Anil Kumar, an officer at the post office, told IANS that the service was being offered for the first time. It started when the two-month pilgrimage season opened on November 16.
"I don't think pilgrims are aware of this facility. But since this started, every day we get around 50 people. Once the prescribed application is filled, the photograph of the person is taken and in 10 minutes the postage stamp is ready," he said.
"In one set, one can get 12 stamps of Rs 5 each but the total cost comes to Rs Rs 300," he added. The stamps are legal and can be used for mailing.
The Sabarimala post office may perhaps be the only one in the country which does not work round the year.
It opens when the peak pilgrimage season of the Ayyappa shrine begins on the first day of the Malayalam month in November and closes towards the middle of January. It also opens during Vishu season.
It is open from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m. But since it also provides recharge coupons for mobile phones, it is mostly kept open beyond its official timings.
The post office has another unique feature: the emblem used to seal the stamps on every incoming and outgoing mail has the hallowed 18 steps leading to the sanctum santorum of the temple of Lord Ayyappa.
Situated in the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats at 914 metres above sea level, the Sabarimala temple is four kilometres uphill from Pamba in Pathanamthitta district, around 100 km from Thiruvananthapuram.
The temple is accessible only on foot from Pamba.