Palani Murugan
 
The Haulage Winch
The Haulage Winch

The Haulage Winch

The old, the sick, the weak and the handicapped persons used to be carried to the hill-top by human beings in 'dholi' (palanquins or chairs). For this type of lifting people up, the pandarams worked in two sets; the first set (of two persons) carrying the dholi up to a central point 225 feet high and the second set relieving them at that stage.

This mode of human beings helping to transport the devotees is no longer in vogue, thanks to modern technology. In 1966, the Devasthānam commissioned a haulage winch (weight 22 tons) with a carrying capacity of 36 persons. It is hauled up over a railway line running to a length of 290 metres (960 ft.) as against the hill height of 450 ft or 136 metres. The travel time is 480 seconds.

A special steel rope is wound during the ascent and unwound during the descent by an electrically rotated drum. The rope is frequently lubricated and periodically examined for safety. The Devasthānam has arrangements with the Kundah Project in the Nilgiris for regular servicing of the winch by competent engineers. At the quarterly inspection, the rope is examined for wear and tear, cuts, corrosion and other defects. The diameter at every 50 ft. of the rope is taken and compared with the previous readings. Once in six months, the holder is removed and a new one jointed. The rope is tested for tension. Annually the rope is replaced. During such occasions for a day or two, only one winch is operated. A generator has been purchased and so power failure does not affect the working of the winch. The winch service operates from 5 am to 9 pm. On Karttikai and festival days, the service starts at 4 am and goes on till 10 pm. A nominal fare is charged for one way and for return trips.

In 1981, a second winch was put up at a cost of Rs. 18.5 lakhs and since then, one winch is hauled up and the other hauled down.

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