Vaishno Devi Shrine receives 7.4 mn of pilgrims

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Jammu, Dec 30 (UNI) The holy shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi located in the Trikuta Hills of Katra town in Jammu and Kashmir, received an all time high pilgrimage, which has been recorded at seven million and all set to exceed by over 4 lakh, official sources here today said.

The sources said this year the yatra would have touched 7.5 million mark, but due to slight downfall in the pilgrimage in the months of March and May, it could not happen.

Mr Puneet Kumar, Additional Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) told UNI, that in the previous year, yatra to the shrine had missed seven million mark by just 50,000 pilgrims, adding he said, ''With just a day left in the year 2007, the yatra has touched 73.60 lakh mark by last night and around 75,000 pilgrims are expected by tomorrow, who will be visiting to this holy place.

''However, a heavy rush of pilgrims is expected on the New Year eve to the shrine and at the end of the year, the yatra may close with around 74.20 lakh of pilgrims, just falling short of 80,000 to reach 7.5 million figure,'' Mr Puneet Kumar said.

Pilgrimage to the widely revered shrine was just 13.95 lakh in 1986 when the SMVDSB had taken control and within two decades, it has gone up by more than 500 per cent.

''At present, 28,000 to 30,000 of pilgrims were reaching Katra, base camp of the shrine, to pay obeisance at the natural 'pindies' of Goddess Shri Vaishno Devi and during last two days of the year, an approximate 70,000 pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine,'' official sources said.

UNI

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