Will break record of last 4 years
JAMMU, Dec 4: Pilgrimage to holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is all set to break the record of previous four years this year as it was expected to touch 86 lakh in 2018, which will be nearly five lakh more than 2017 as number of pilgrims visiting the cave shrine has been on the rise.
During 2017, 81.78 lakh pilgrims had visited Mata Vaishno Devi Ji shrine and this year the number was expected to be around 86 lakh as it has already crossed eight million mark with 27 days still left for completion of 2018.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) CEO Simrandeep Singh told the Excelsior that the pilgrimage this year so far was up by 4.11 lakh as compared to corresponding period last year.
“By the end of the year, we are expecting an increase of over 5 lakh pilgrimage this year from 2017,” Singh said, adding that on an average about 15,000 yatris are visiting the cave shrine per day and the number goes up during the weekends.
The CEO SMVDSB, who has been regularly monitoring arrangements for the pilgrims at Katra, the base camp of the shrine, Bhawan and tracks, said all possible facilities are being provided to the yatris and due care has been taken for their comfort during the winter season.
Meanwhile, sources said, efficient and pilgrim oriented management by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board was instrumental in increasing number of the pilgrims to the shrine.
This is for the first time during last four years that number of pilgrims visiting the shrine will surpass 8.5 million.
The yatra stood at 81.78 lakh in 2017, 77.23 lakh in 2016, 77.76 lakh in 2015 and 78.03 lakh in 2014.
For the first time in history of the shrine, the pilgrimage had breached 10 million mark in 2011 to reach 1.01 crore and the number again went up to 1.04 crore in 2012. However, since then the yatra had almost been on decline due to various factors. It had come down to 93.24 lakh in 2013.
Pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine was just 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 but it fell down during past four years of 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 due to variety of natural reasons including Kedarnath ji tragedy in 2013 followed by tensions on the International Border in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and Burhan Wani killing in 2016, which led to unrest in the Valley.
It was for the first time in 1991 that the pilgrimage had 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 1.01 crore.