1.04 cr pilgrims visit Vaishno Devi during 2012

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Jan 1: An all time high 1.04 crore pilgrims visited holy cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji during 2012 recording an increase of 3.79 lakh over 2011.
It was in 2011 that yatra to the cave shrine located between Trikuta Hills had crossed 1 crore for the first time. This was the second consecutive year when the pilgrimage remained above one crore mark.
Reports said 1,04,95,269 yatris paid obeisance to natural pindies inside the cave shrine at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan, located at a height of 5200 feet from the sea level during the year that ended yesterday. In 2011, 1,01,15,647 yatris had performed darshan. The yatra this year recorded an increase of 3,79,622.
In the month of December 2012, 6 lakh pilgrims offered prayers at the Bhawan. The figure was down by about 92,000 as during the same month in 2011, 6,92,536 yatris had paid obeisance to the Goddess.
On December 31, 2012, 46,861 registered pilgrims visited Mata Vaishno Devi shrine to spend New Year at the holy cave. The pilgrims, who couldn’t get registration slip at Katra, the base camp of the shrine last night due to heavy rush, visited the Bhawan this morning.
Authorities of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) were expecting one crore pilgrimage almost every year now as rushed to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine was increasing with every passing year.
Bollywood singer Narender Chanchal, who has lent his voice to many ‘bhajans’, performed ‘jagrata’ in holy town of Katra on the New Year eve, a practice he has been following for past several years. Ambrish Magotra alias Ashu, a noted businessman, had organized the ‘jagran’. Police had made tight security arrangements for the ‘jagran’, which were supervised by DIG Udhampur-Reasi range Jagjit Kumar.
Pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi was 13.95 lakh in 1986 when the SMVDSB had taken over affairs of the shrine. Since then, the yatra continued to go up every year creating new records.
It was for the first time in 1991 that the pilgrimage crossed 3 million (31.15 lakh). The 4 million mark was reached in 1996 while the yatra reached 50 lakh in 2000 and 60 lakh in 2004. It was in 2007 that the yatra stood at 74.17 lakh.
The pilgrimage came down to 67.92 lakh in 2008 due to two months long Amarnath land agitation but again went up to 82 lakh in 2009 and reached 87.2 lakh in 2010. It was for the first time in 2011 that the yatra crossed 10 million mark and stood at 1.02 crore.
This was for the first time during current year that the pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine crossed 10 lakh for three consecutive months. It was 12.3 lakh in May, 12.62 lakh in June and 12.01 lakh in July. It missed 10 lakh figure in August by 16,000. Last year, the pilgrimage had crossed 10 lakh figure in July and August (11.21 lakh and 10.05 lakh respectively).
During the month of January this year, the yatra stood at 4.59 lakh up from 4.21 lakh of last year while in February it was 3.92 lakh again up from last year’s figure of 3.69 lakh while in the month of March. However, it was in the month of April when yatra slightly came down to 9.61 lakh from previous year’s 10.32 lakh.
In May, the yatra was 12.3 lakh up from last year’s 9.37 lakh, in June it was 12.62 lakh up from 12.07 lakh and in July it stood at 12.01 lakh from last year’s 11.27 lakh. In August, September and October, the pilgrimage was 9.84 lakh, 8.77 lakh and 9.92 lakh as compared to 10.05 lakh, 8.25 lakh and 8.72 lakh respectively.

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