After nearly five months, the Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage in Trikuta hills of Jammu and Kashmir resumed on Sunday morning, with nearly 244 pilgrims proceeding to the holy shrine from Katra till 6.30 pm.
The first pilgrim left from Katra at 6.50 am, sources said.
On August 4, the Executive Committee of the UT’s Department of Disaster Management, Relief Rescue and Rehabilitation decided to reopen all religious places across Jammu and Kashmir from August 16, subject to observance of standard operating protocol (SOP). This fixed a ceiling of 5,000 pilgrims visiting the shrine daily, after registering online. The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, however, has decided to allow only 2,000 pilgrims daily in the first week.
The board has made face masks/face covers and thermal screening mandatory for pilgrims. Children below 10 years, pregnant women, persons with co-morbidities and those above 60 years have been advised to avoid the yatra in view of the Covid-19 risks.
Pilgrims coming from outside Jammu and Kashmir and from Red zone districts within the UT have to furnish Covid negative reports at the helipad and yatra entry point at Darshani Deodi, Banganga, near Katra.
On Sunday, shrine board officials were heard making regular announcements along the yatra track about the various coronavirus precautions pilgrims are to observe.
For the comfort of yatris, all supplementary facilities set up by the board, such as Battery Operated Vehicles, passenger ropeway and helicopter services, have been put into operation, with social distancing norms and other precautionary measures.
In order to avoid congregational gatherings, booking/sitting of pilgrims in the Atka Aarti area/ Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja has not been allowed till further orders.
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