Monday, January 16, 2012

Natural Cave of Vaishno Devi Opened

Yatris take to old way of darshan at Vaishno Devi

After about an year, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) has opened natural and traditional old cave for pilgrims of the Goddess in view of decline in yatra rush due to harsh winter following snowfall and rains in Trikuta Hills for the past few days.

"This is nearly after a year that historic and natural cave of Mata Vaishno Devi ji has been thrown open for the pilgrims to reach sanctum sanctorum to have darshan of natural pindies of the Goddess'', SMVDSB Additional CEO Dr Mandeep K Bhandari said.

He added that the old cave is being opened for six hours (10 am to 4 pm) during the day time. However, the time can be extended depending upon rush of the yatris.

"If the rush remained below normal, the natural cave timings are extended but if it increased, the authorities closed the old cave and divert pilgrims to adjoining new cave for reaching the sanctum sanctorum'', Dr Bhandari said.

Yesterday, 12,000 pilgrims had darshan of Goddess Vaishno Devi amidst chilly weather conditions and rains. Today, about 9000 yatris left Katra, the base camp of the shrine, for the Bhawan.

Worthwhile to mention here that the Shrine Board had constructed two more caves leading to sanctum sanctorum, where three natural pindies of the Goddess are located. The traditional cave shrine was closed by the Board to reduce waiting for the pilgrims after number of yatris started picking up in nineties following take over of affairs of the shrine by the SMVDSB.

The old and traditional cave was opened for few days in January last year. This is exactly after a year that the natural cave has been opened for the yatris.

On an average, about 15,000 yatris have been visiting Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan these days. The Bhawan, Bhairon Ghati, Sanji Chat and track up to Adh Kunwari had experienced snowfall few days back. It rained on the track and the Bhawan throughout the day today.

Official sources said though the new track from Adh Kunwari to Bhawan was operational, the Shrine Board staff was keeping a watch on it since the route was prone to landslides. The track is closed for few hours during rains and re-opened for pilgrims later. However, the old route remained open as there was no threat of landslides on this track, they added.

The Shrine Board was constructing another alternate route exclusively for mules from near Katra to Adh-Kunwari. Work on this track was going on expeditiously and was expected to be completed in a year's time.

After completion of track, the pilgrims trekking to Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan and the mules would have separate routes. The mules are not allowed on alternate track from Adh-Kunwari to Bhawan.

Last year 1.01 crore pilgrims had visited holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi ji, which was an a.ll time record. This year also, the Shrine Board was expecting similar or even more rush of pilgrims to the holy cave shrine.

Rush to Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan generally picked up in the month of March when the winter and examination season is over.

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