JAMMU, Dec 31: Close to eight million pilgrims visited holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji during 2019 despite disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir following scrapping of special Constitutional provisions of the erstwhile J&K State and its bifurcations into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Ramesh Kumar, CEO Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) told the Excelsior that 79.5 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance to Goddess Vaishno Devi Ji this year.
Today on the eve of New Year, nearly 45,000 pilgrims visited the shrine to celebrate New Year there.
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During 2018, 85 lakh pilgrims had visited Mata Vaishno Devi shrine but the number fell by 5.5 lakh this year mainly due to disturbances in the Union Territory post August 5 decisions.
However, the yatra started picking up in December and last month of 2019 registered more pilgrims than corresponding month of 2018.
Kumar said the Shrine Board has decided to start a ‘Langar’ at Sanji Chat, which will be second on Katra-Bhawan track after Tarakota Marg.
Further, he said, the Board will also start telecast of ‘live aarti’ at SGC Auditorium in Katra which can be witnessed by 300 people.