Kancheepuram: At a time when the Kancheepuram temple in Tamil Nadu is facing criticism over lack of arrangements for devotees of Athi Varadar, news of four deaths in the temple has sent shockwaves.

Four persons who went to the temple for a darshan lost their lives due to suffocation. As per reports, all four victims complained of breathlessness while waiting in a queue on Thursday (July 18).

They were immediately rushed to the temporary medical centre on the temple premises and given first aid.

The doctor at the medical centre also referred them to the Kancheepuram Government Hospital for further medical attention, where all four of them died.

The victims have been identified as Anandhavelu (50) from Salem, Narayani (55) and Natarajan (61) from Chennai and Gangalakshmi (47) from Andhra Pradesh.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh to the kin of the deceased.

"We didn't expect such a large turnout of devotees for darshan of Athi Varadar. Even at the Tirumala temple, 75,000 devotees come a day and necessary facilities are there,” Palaniswami said in the Assembly. He stated that around 1.75 lakh people had come for darshan on Thursday.

The massive influx of devotees from far and wide has thrown life in the small town of Kancheepuram out of gear. Numerous devotees have taken to social media to record their disappointment with the arrangements made at the spot.

From setting up parking spots six kilometres away from the temple to lack of drinking water and fans en route the shrine, people continue to raise complaints against the district and the state administration.

Athi Varadar is a Hindu event that takes place once in 40 years. The statue of the deity, made out of the fig tree and is kept in the temple tank of the Varadharaja Perumal temple in Kancheepuram. It is taken out once every 40 years when devotees can come to offer prayers for 48 days.

Recently, President Ram Nath Kovind visited the temple to offer prayers to Athi Varadar.

As this is a festival that takes place once in 40 years, devotees have been thronging the temple since day one. Currently, the average wait to catch a glimpse of the deity ranges between three and seven hours as thousands of devotees queue up in front of the temple.