The decision comes after protesters at the Cochin International Airport refused to budge even after 14 hours.
Desai had been holed up at the airport after the police cautioned her against venturing out in view of protests by Ayyappa devotees and certain political organizations against her.
According to reports, she is likely to try again, possibly after filing a contempt of court petition with the Supreme Court.
She had arrived at 4:40 AM in an attempt to become the first woman under 50 to enter the Sabarimala temple after a bench headed by former chief justice Dipak Misra dismissed age restrictions for women entering the temple.
Traditionally, only women above 50 and girls below 10 are allowed inside. The court found no logic behind the custom and asked for it to be annulled.
Desai’s decision to return also comes after marathon talks between her and Kerala government authorities, including the local Tehsildar and senior police officials.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government of Kerala is caught in a bind as the people of Kerala are overwhelmingly opposed to the entry of an activist, that too an outsider who has not undergone the necessary penance rituals required to enter Sabarimala, into Kerala’s holiest shrine.
On the other hand, a section within the Left parties want the government to take tough action to advance the cause of ‘progressive politics’ by helping the activists force their way into the shrine.
The situation has played to BJP’s advantage and the saffron party’s U-turn to assume a pro-devotee stand is expected to help it increase its support among Hindus, particularly OBCs and SCs who comprise the majority of Ayyappa devotees.
The BJP has traditionally found it hard to attract these sections that have traditionally formed the ‘vote bank’ of the Left.
The Congress Party too has opposed her move to enter the temple.
Many believers believe that if a woman below the age of 50 enters the temple, Ayyappa — who is believed to inhabit the jungle abode — will leave the temple.
Such a development, it is believed, would make the annual pilgrimages of about 30-40 million people in South India pointless.