Around 18 lakh pilgrims visit Vaishno Devi shrine in 4 months

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Jammu, May 1 (UNI) The number of pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine, situated at the Trikuta hills of Reasi district, has shown a record increase in the first four months this year as compared to previous year, official sources said.

The rush has been unprecedented from January 1 to April 30 this and is not expected to go down during the coming summer, an official spokesman said.

According to the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, about 18,000 to 20,000 pilgrims are visiting the shrine every day from all parts of the country to pay obeisance. On April 26,2008, the figure of visiting pilgrims crossed 26,000, which was a record breaking in the last four months, they added.'' ''15,90,105 pilgrims visited the holy shrine in the first four months in the year 2007 whereas the inflow of pilgrims has shown an extraordinary rise this year and the figure touched 17,82,115 thus showing tremendous increase,'' Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, M K Diwedi told UNI.

''Once the summer breaks begin in other parts of the country, huge rush of pilgrims is expected this year. We cannot rule out 40,000 to 50,000 of pilgrims, visiting every day at the Katra base camp to trek 13-kilometres long track after May 20,'' Mr Diwedi said.

However, the rush has gladdened the hearts of traders and hoteliers of the area while it has also come as a boost to the economy of Jammu. Mr Diwedi also said that all suitable arrangements have been made for the pilgrims including water and required facilities.

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