Katra witnesses huge pilgrim rush, security agencies on high alert

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Jammu, Oct 12 (UNI) Famous Vaishnodevi cave shrine witnessed a huge rush of devotees on the first 'Navratra' today while security agencies were put on high alert in the holy town of Katra and other places of religious importance in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

Thousands of pilgrims thronged Katra, Bagh-e-Bahu temple and other religious places in the region on the first day of the nine-day festival to seek the blessings of the goddess.

The Trikuta hills were echoing with ''Jai Mata Di'' as devotees of all age groups from all over the country were seen scaling the mountain on foot, ponies, 'pithus' and 'palkis'.

''Extra force has been deployed in Katra and other places of religious importance to ensure peaceful Ramzan-Id and Navratra celebrations,'' a senior official said, adding security forces were put on high alert after yesterday's Ajmer blast.

Other arrangements for the convenience of pilgrims, whose number is expected to exceed 7.5 million by the end of this year, have been satisfactorily done.

To make the Navratra festival more lively, cultural programmes, including 'jagran' by famous 'bhajan' singer Narinder Chanchal and skits have also been organised.

Besides this, an annual wrestling event has been organised in which at least nine Pakistani wrestlers will take part. An All India Devotional Song competition will be the other attractions of the festival.

UNI

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