Home / News / India /  Vaishno Devi shrine all set to welcome pilgrims for Navratri. Details here

The Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, perched atop the Trikuta hills in Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district, is decorated to welcome visitors arriving for the nine-day Navratri festival beginning on Monday, said the shrine officials.

Over three lakh pilgrims are anticipated to travel to the shrine during the festival, and the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) has made all necessary preparations, including security, to handle the heavy demand.

RFID to manage crowd

On 31 August, Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who also serves as the chairman of the shrine board, implemented an RFID system for the visitors.

The RFID system is one of several new initiatives approved for the convenience of pilgrims in the wake of a stampede at the shrine on New Year's Day that resulted in 12 fatalities and 16 injuries.

Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB, Anshul Garg said, “We have set up two control rooms and installed 120 CCTV cameras along the track and the Bhawan (sanctum sanctorum) to ensure the Yatra is regulated in a better way...The RFID card system, which is mandatory for all pilgrims, will help in better crowd management and real time tracking of pilgrims."

Decorations and selfie points

He said the shrine and adjoining areas have been decorated with flowers and lights for the festival. “Welcome gates have also been installed and this time the shrine board is introducing selfie points en-route the cave shrine for the pilgrims," he added.

Arrangements for physically challenged devotees

He also said that, physically challenged devotees will receive free access to horses and battery-powered cars, making it easier for them to offer prayers at the shrine. “This is another new initiative of the shrine board and we have set up help desks for the convenience of persons with special needs. They will also be given priority for ‘darshan’ at the Bhawan," he said.

Cultural events

Katra, 42 km from Jammu, which serves as the base camp for the shrine, will witness a series of religious, cultural, sports and folk events till the culmination of the festival on 4 October.

All India Devotional Song Competition, wrestling competition, Ramleela, shobha yatra, Bhagwati Katha, Mata Ki Bhaint, Mata ki Kahani play, and Kavi Sammelan are just a few of the events that the tourism department is organising in conjunction with the SMVDSB and divisional administration for the pilgrims.

“A total of 14 different activities will be organized in Katra from 26 September to 4 October," Garg added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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