JAMMU: The pilgrimage to World famous Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, located in the Trikuta Hills of Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed slump in the past two months due to surging cases of COVID-19 in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir like other parts of the country.
“The number of pilgrims per day visiting Katra town to perform pilgrimage has declined due to COVID,” an official said.
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He said that only a few hundred pilgrims, mostly local devotees from parts of Jammu and Kashmir, are visiting the cave shrine to pay obeisance.
“The tracks are wearing a deserted look and the eating points along the twin routes are shut,” said a local shopkeeper adding that the food points being run by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board are operational.
“The services like helicopter, battery car and cable car are also functional for the convenience of the pilgrims,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Ramesh Kumar here said, “all facilities being provided by the Board are functional.”
“The Shrine Board is taking care of pilgrims with all safety measures in place including testing on their arrival,” said the CEO adding that the Board is following SOPs, guidelines being issued time to time by the Centre and the J&K Government including the Health Department.
On an average, 300 to 400 pilgrims are visiting the Cave Shrine daily, he added.
Amidst COVID, more than 16 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi in the first four months of 2021.
In the first two months, pilgrimage increased and the per day figure reached 15000 to 20000 but with the second COVID wave, the number decreased and in the first four months, 16,45,333 pilgrims visited the Bhawan.
In January, a total of 40,8861 devotees reached the Bhawan, in February, 3,89,549 devotees, in March, 5,25,198 and in the month of April, 3,21,725 pilgrims. (AGENCY)