HUNDREDS of Hindu devotees last Sunday blocked a path leading to one of the religion's holiest temples in southern India, to stop a group of women making a new attempt to reach the landmark.

Women activists have been trying to enter the Sabrimala temple complex in Kerala state since a  September ruling by the Supreme Court of India overturned a longstanding ban on childbearing age from visiting the shrine.

Tensions peaked again after 11 women reached the village of Pamba at the foot of the  hill with the Sabrimala shrine at the top.

Pilgrims have to walk about  four hours  to reach the shrine but hundreds of protesters, including women, from across India blocked the path, noisily vowing not to let the women pass.

''The women are adamant they won't withdraw until they have seen the deity at the Sabrimala temple,'' said Selvi, a leader of the women, who only uses one name.

Police held talks between the two sides in a bid to end the showdown.

''We are monitoring the situation and will follow the decision of  High court appointed monitoring committee,'' Kerala state government minister for cooperation Kadakampally  Surendram told journalists.

Hundreds of thousands of Hindus   -men, young girls and elderly women -normally trek to the temple during the current festival season.

But Sabrimala has become a major battleground between Hindu radicals and gender activists since the  Supreme  Court's  landmark revocation of the ban on women between 10 and 50,  which has sparked waves of protests and shutdowns cross Kerala.

The Supreme Court  is to hear challenges to its decision to overturn the ban on women from January 22. [Agencies]

The operational research on Religious Rights, and Law continues.


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