Pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi in Trikuta Hills of Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district resumed on Monday morning after remaining suspended for four consecutive days in view of heavy rains, with 17,700 pilgrims proceeding towards the cave shrine. The pilgrimage was, however, resumed only through the old route as the two new tracks were still closed in view of landslides.
“Yatra to the cave shrine resumed this morning after remaining suspended for four days in view of heavy rains and bad weather conditions,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board (SMVSB) Mandeep K Bhandari said. The yatra has resumed only through Sanjichhat-Bhairon Temple track. The two new tracks are still closed in view of landslides, he said, adding it will take two more days to make it available for pilgrims.
“For ensuring that pilgrims cover the journey during day time only for their safety, the Yatra Slip issuance from Katra was stopped at 2:40 PM. Total number of Yatris who embarked on the journey was 17,700. The Yatra proceeded smoothly,” he said. Bhandari visited the entire track along with officers and engineers of the Shrine Board and took stock of the ongoing work on clearing the path, restoring water and power supply and making other logistics available enroute and in Bhawan area.
The movement of the pilgrims is being continuously monitored, he said, adding that the track from Sanjichhat to Bhawan via Bhairon Temple is narrow and it involves steep climb, particularly between Bhawan and Bhairon Temple. Considering the fact that ponies cannot be allowed beyond Sanjichhat, pilgrims have been advised to start their journey via this route only if they are in good state of health and do not have any underlying cardiac or other such ailment.
The CEO informed that efforts were on to clear all the tracks leading to the Shrine and to fully restore electricity and water supply to all the establishments and tracks. In view of landslides triggered by heavy rains, over 4,000 pilgrims were stuck at various places en route the cave shrine for the past few days. The Board had provided them all facilities.
Pilgrimage to the shrine from Katra base camp was suspended on September 4 in the wake of continuing rains and the closure of the track due to landslides at various places. Bhandari said clearing of debris from the track which has come down from the slopes due to continuous spell of rain over the past few days was still going on and it might take a couple of days to make it fir for Yatra.
Superintending Engineer and Executive Engineer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board are camping at various locations for ensuring that the track is through, he said. Bhandari said that considering the entire situation, the Shrine Board decided to open the track via Sanjichhat-Bhairon Track only this morning.
Yatra slips were given to pilgrims at Katra Monday morning so that they could undertake the pilgrimage through the old route. The decision to resume the pilgrimage was taken after supply of water and power were restored on the track, he said. The pilgrimage via two new tracks would take two days as efforts to restore water and power supply is on, the CEO said, adding helicopter services to the shrine are likely to be restored.