Srinagar, April : Hindus from across the nation thronged Vaishno Devi shrine on the first day of the nine-day 'Navratri' festival.
"Navratri", dedicated to Hindu Goddess Durga is celebrated twice in a year, during the spring and the autumn season.
Devotees in large numbers from across the country came to offer prayers to the much-revered goddess residing on the tough height of 5300 feet to mark the beginning of festival, symbolising the triumph of good over evil.
Security has been beefed up at the pilgrimage site to ensure peaceful celebrations.
"Lot of devotees will come here to worship Goddess Durga. We have made arrangements for their safe and secure visits. From police deployments, flying squads have been posted at strategic places. At nights, barriers have been placed at required places. Moreover patrolling has been increased. Suspicious characters are being thoroughly checked and we hope that people have calm and peaceful Navartras," said K Rajendra, Inspector General of Police, Jammu Zone.
Devotees who reached the shrine on the first day of the festival said that they were content with the security arrangements.
"We were able to worship goddess very peacefully. Lot of faith can be seen here. Besides security and other arrangements are also very much satisfactory," said Sunny, a devotee.
Most of the Hindu devotees observe fasts during the nine-day festival and consume only fruits and milk in their meals.
Durga stands for "shakti" or power. She is depicted as riding a raging lion, holding weapons in her ten hands.