“They warned drivers at several nearby parking lots and hotels. Anyone who defies it will be risking damage to his vehicle,” he added in an account corroborated by other drivers.
“No one will get to the temple today because all the drivers are scared for the safety of their cars,” one hotel receptionist told AFP. Shops, businesses and schools in the area were shut.
State authorities insisted that they would ensure access, imposing restrictions on public gatherings of more than five people, and laying on buses for devotees.
Kerala police, who had 1,450 officers on duty, many with helmets and body armour over their khaki uniforms, provided escorts to some buses.
Police also patrolled through the night and reinforced their presence at Nilackal, the base camp below the temple.
But groups of between 50 and 100 young men gathered at intersections on Thursday, checking vehicles.
“Traditions that have existed since before courts cannot be tampered with,” Krishna Kumar, a tall muscular man in his 20s at one crossroads in the town of Kozhencherry, told AFP.
In some areas, protesters threw stones at the buses.