The cave shrine of Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir witnessed surge in number of visiting pilgrims in 2017. In the period between January and March, over 6.83 lakh pilgrims performed prayers at the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi.
As many as 1.46 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi via old natural cave route in Reasi district.
“During January to March 11 this year, out of 6,83,032 pilgrims who paid obeisance at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine while 1,46,535 went through the natural cave. Of whom, 49,666 had darshan of the sanctum sanctorum through the natural cave in January, 73,034 in February and 23,835 during March 1-11, 2017,” Ajeet Kumar Sahu, CEO of the Shrine Board said.
Sahu further said that about 20,000-30,000 pilgrims are visiting the holy cave shrine on daily basis during these days and the overall yatra numbers during January 1 - March 22 this year is 12,16,908 which is 1,51,006 higher than the yatra in the corresponding period in 2016.
“Every year the natural cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine remains open from around mid January to mid March when the number of pilgrims is at the lowest. During this period the natural cave is opened and closed on daily basis at regular intervals depending on the flow of pilgrims,” Sahu said.
He said every year the natural cave is opened for pilgrims for darshan of Holy Pindis Maa Vaishno Devi after Makar Sankranti, as per usual practice.
However, the SDM Bhawan is authorised to regulate the darshan through the natural cave considering the yatra rush and congestion to avoid any inconvenience to the pilgrims.
He stated that due to continuous heavy flow of yatra, continuous darshan via the old cave is not possible and hence it remains closed for yatris throughout the year and opened only for few weeks after Makar Sankranti.
This year the Yatra witnessed an upward surge from Holi festival onwards and the number of pilgrims paying obeisance remained more than 20,000 daily.
Therefore, the natural cave has not been opened thereafter, he said.