More pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi compared to last year

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Katra (Jammu and Kashmir), Nov 16 (ANI): There has been an increase in the flow of pilgrims to Vaishno Devi this year.

Around 7, 41, 8000 pilgrims visited the shrine in November, breaking all previous records. The authorities are expecting the figure to cross the eight million mark by the end of this year.

"I'm glad to tell you that this year maximum number of pilgrims visited the shrine. If we see then in 2007, we received the highest number of pilgrims which was 74, 17, 619 and this year, as on 12th November, this number was also surpassed and we received the maximum number of devotees, highest so far," said Additional Chief Executive Officer of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Mandeep Bhandari.

Devotees had not turned up in large numbers in 2008, when Kashmir was surrounded by controversy over transfer of forestland to a Hindu shrine.

But this season, the devotees have poured in form the whole country and lessened the impact of last year's losses.

"Business was good. My restaurant is in prime location. I did good business, hopefully next year it will be better than this," said Sham Lal Kessar, a restaurant owner.

Vaishno Devi Temple is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to the Goddess of Shakti (power).

It is situated in the hill of Vaishno Devi in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. Goddess Mother Vaishno Devi also named as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi is the presiding deity.

After Tirumala Venkateshwara temple at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, it is the second most important shrine. (ANI)

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