Friday, July 1, 2011

Vaishno Devi Yatra at Rise

Vaishno Devi yatra set to cross 9 million June breaks all time record of pilgrimage

In another significant record, the month of June this year has recorded highest ever yatra to holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi ji for any month with 11.45 lakh pilgrims paying obeisance to the Goddess taking total yatra during first half of the year to 46.39 lakh, about 4.5 lakh more than the corresponding period for last year.

The previous highest pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine for any month was recorded in June 2008 when 11,18,065 yatris had visited natural cave of the Goddess. During this June, 11,23,178 yatris had darshan of Vaishno Devi till last night. By tonight, the number was expected to touch 11.45 lakh. The yatris, who had online registration, were yet to be included in this month’s figure.

Official sources said total yatra to Mata Vaishno Devi’s shrine during first half of the year (till June 29 night) was 46,39,554 as compared to previous year’s 41,87,605.

During six months of this year, the yatra has gone up by 4,51,949.

June being the month of summer vacations almost all over the country has always witnessed highest ever yatra in the year.

In addition to previous best figure of 11.18 lakh in June 2008, the yatra in June 2009 was 10.13 lakh. It was 9.19 lakh in June 2010, 9.35 lakh in 2007, 9.37 lakh in 2006 and 8.57 lakh in 2005. Even in 1986 when Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) was set up and total yatra for the year was 13.95 lakh, the month of June had recorded highest yatra of 1.93 lakh.

Going by the increase of 4.51 lakh in first half of the year, the yatra was expected to touch or cross the figure of 9 million mark for the first time in the history. During 2010, 87 lakh pilgrims had performed darshan of natural pindies of Goddess Vaishno Devi. If everything goes well, the yatra would easily cross 9 million this year, sources said.

The yatra arrangements are being supervised personally by Additional CEO of SMVDSB, Dr Mandeep Bhandari.

The Shrine Board was ultimately bracing up to receive 1 crore pilgrims in the next couple of years. The infrastructure is being developed taking in view the arrival of 10 million yatris a year.

SDPO Katra P N Tickoo said security arrangements at Katra, which serves as base camp for the shrine, Darshani Deodi, Ban Ganga and surrounding areas have already been intensified in view of heavy rush to the holy cave shrine.

Mr Tickoo said the pilgrims having mobile handset with IMEI number and photo identity cards were being allowed only in the hotels, guest houses, lodges and sarais as per the directive of police.

As against 87.2 lakh yatra in 2010, the number in 2009 was 82 lakh. In 2008, 67.92 lakh yatra was recorded while the number was 74.17 lakh in 2007. The pilgrimage was down in 2008 due to Amarnath land row agitation.

Even last year, the SMVDSB authorities were anticipating 9 million yatra to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine but the number remained slightly less due to three month unrest during summer in the Kashmir valley. The Valley unrest also had impact on the yatra to Vaishno Devi Bhawan.

While 4,21,231 yatris had darshan of natural pindies of Goddess Vaishno Devi during January this year, the similar figure for previous year was 3,99,665. In February, the yatra came down slightly and stood at 3,69,755 as against 3,77,213 last year. In March, 7.55 lakh yatris paid obeisance to the Goddess as against 7.22 lakh last year. In April this year, 9.77 lakh pilgrims visited Mata’s Bhawan as against 8.35 lakh last year.

Yatra to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in the month of May was almost equal like the last year. While this year, 8.7 lakh yatris visited the cave shrine, the figure for the last year was 8.65 lakh.

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