Over five million pilgrims visit Vaishno Devi till June

July 4th, 2012 - 4:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, July 4 (IANS) Over five million pilgrims from across the country paid visit to the famous Hindu shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi near Jammu in the first six months of this year, an official said, outlining the steps taken by the authorities in making the pilgrimage a grand success.

About 5.17 million pilgrims visited the shrine up to June this year as against 4.72 million during the corresponding period in 2011. “This indicates that number of pilgrims this year is going to cross last year’s record of 10.1 million pilgrims,” said the official of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB).

The official admitted that handling such a massive number of pilgrims “is a massive challenge”.

“The board has channelised water from Painallah to the shrine to meet the needs of the pilgrims,” the official said.

For the shrine board, the biggest challenge is meeting water, electricity, boarding and lodging needs of the pilgrims at Katra (the base camp), at the shrine and also en route.

Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is nestled in Trikuta hills at a height of 5,500 feet above sea level. A 12-km trek leads to the shrine from Katra, the base camp of the pilgrimage which is 45 km north of Jammu.

The pilgrims can walk the trek, go on ponies or palanquins, or by helicopters, which drop pilgrims about 2.5 km short of the shrine.

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