Two women who reached the Nilakkal base camp in Kerala on Saturday to trek to the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala returned after the police warned them of protests by devotees, PTI reported.

Reshma Nishant and Shaneela Sajesh attempted to offer prayers at the temple on January 16, but had to abandon their plans after devotees staged a protest. The women claimed they observed the traditional 41-day penance before arriving at Sabairmala.

The two women reached Nilakkal around 5 am on Saturday. Sunday is the last day of the annual pilgrimage to the temple during the Makaravilakku festival season.

The police reportedly told the women that it would be difficult to provide protection to them till the shrine due to the possibility of protests. The women agreed to leave after talking to the police.

A group of men belonging to the Facebook collective Navothana Keralam Sabarimalayileku, who were accompanying the two, also returned, reported Manorama. They said more women in the age groups between 10 and 50 would visit the temple on Saturday.

There have been massive protests across the state since the Supreme Court, in September, allowed women of menstruating age to enter the shrine, scrapping an age-old tradition. The protests have been led mainly by Hindutva outfits, many of them belonging to the Sangh Parivar.

On Friday, the Supreme Court directed the Kerala government to provide round-the-clock security to the two women – civil servant Kanakadurga and law lecturer Bindu Ammini – who became the first of menstruating age to enter Sabarimala and offer prayers on January 2. They went into hiding after receiving threats following their entry into the temple.