All time high 12.3 lakh yatris visit Vaishno Devi in May

*Pilgrimage up by 4 lakh in 5 months
Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, June 1: A new history has been created in the month of May in the pilgrimage of holy cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji with highest ever 12.3 lakh pilgrims paying obeisance to the Goddess in one month.
The previous highest figure of 12.07 lakh in a month was recorded in June 2011.
In May, the pilgrimage has gone up by nearly 23,000 as compared to earlier record. It was only twice in the history of the shrine that yatra has crossed 12 lakh in a month, official sources said, adding that in 2011, the yatra had crossed the figure of 10 lakhs during four months including April (10.32 lakh), June (12.07 lakh), July (11.27 lakh) and August (10.05 lakh).
With 12.3 lakh pilgrims offering prayers in Mata Vaishno Devi shrine located in Trikuta Hills at a height of 5200 feet from sea level as against 9.37 lakh during last year, the yatra this month alone has recorded an increase of 2.93 lakh over the corresponding month of 2011.
Total yatra during first five months of this year has reached 39.17 lakh as compared to 35.16 lakh last year, registering an increase of 4.01 lakh.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) under the supervision of Additional CEO Dr Mandeep K Bhandari told has braced up to receive heavy rush of pilgrims during summer vacations, which would last till the end of July.
Though during past couple of years, the shrine of Goddess Vaishno Devi had been witnessing heavy rush almost throughout the year excepting winter months of December, January and February, still three months between May to July received maximum yatris.
In the month of January this year, 4.59 lakh pilgrims visited holy cave shrine this year as against 4.21 lakh in 2011 recording an increase of 37,941. In February, 3.92 lakh yatris had darshan of the Goddess this year while the number last year was 3.69 lakh, an increase of 23,113.
In March, the pilgrimage went up to 8.74 lakh as against 7.55 lakh of previous year, up by 1.18 lakh. However, it was in the month of April that the yatra came down to 9.61 lakh this year as compared to 10.32 lakh of last year, a decline of 71,291.
It was during 2011 that yatra to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine had crossed 10 million mark for the first time. Prior to that 87.3 lakh yatris had visited the cave shrine in Trikuta hills in 2010. In 2009, the number of yatris was 82 lakh while in 2008, 67.92 lakh pilgrims had visited the shrine.
Sources said going by the trend of first five months of this year when yatra has recorded an increase of over 4 lakh from the corresponding period of last year, there was every possibility of pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan surpassing the last year’s figure of one crore.
The SMVDSB authorities have already braced up for meeting the heavy rush of yatris in the upcoming months especially the summer vacations.
“It has been observed that during summer some water points run dry in the peak season. Efforts were being made this time to ensure that water supply was maintained at all points along the track from Katra to Vaishno Devi Bhawan including alternate track of Adh-Kunwari’’, sources said.
The Shrine Board was already working on another alternate track from Katra to Adh-Kunwari, which would be used exclusively by mules. When completed, the new alternate track would ease congestion on present track as all mules would be diverted to it, they added.
Work on this track was going on expeditiously, sources said, adding that the track was expected to be commission in the next few months.


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