The Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, which is located on Trikota Mountain in the Reasi District of Jammu Province, is set to welcome more than one crore pilgrims this year after being closed for over two years due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.
According to official statistics, 86 lakh pilgrims have visited Mata Vishnu Devi this year so far. By the end of December, this number may cross one crore as more people visit this Gupha in December.In the year 2013, 93.24 lakh pilgrims visited Gupha.
In the year 2018, 85 lakh 86 thousand 541 pilgrims came, while this year 85 lakh 63 thousand 138 pilgrims have done darshan so far.
In 2020, the Yatra was hit the hardest due to the restrictions imposed in view of the Covid pandemic. Even the number of visitors dropped to 1987 levels.
Thousands of people have been coming daily from Union Territories and other parts of the country. The increase in pilgrimage has been possible due to the effective and pilgrim-oriented management of the Shri Vaishnava Devi Shrine Board. During this year, an average of about 25 to 30,000 devotees visited the cave on a daily basis. At present, the footfall has decreased due to winter and the wedding season, but the footfall is expected to increase in the second half of December.
It is noteworthy that in the year 2012, a maximum of one crore of four lakh five thousand devotees visited the shrine of Mata Vishnu Devi.
Till November last year 49 lakh, 49 thousand 967 devotees had performed puja while this year till the end of November 36 lakh 13 thousand 171 more pilgrims have visited the cave. Around 15 lakh people are expected to visit the shrine by the end of the year.
A total of 4,38,521 devotees had darshan last January, 3,61,074 in February, 7,78,669 in March, 9,02,192 in April, 9,86,766 in May, and 1,12,92,311 in June.
Since the establishment of the Shri Mata Vaishnava Devi Shrine Board in 1986, the shrine has seen a steady increase in the number of devotees. The board has taken various initiatives over the years for the convenience of pilgrims including the mobile app, home delivery of pooja prasad, round-the-clock call centre for the convenience of pilgrims, installation of hi-tech video walls and construction of Durga Bhavan.
On its foundation in August, Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha launched the new RFID system for passenger convenience. This system will ensure seamless access control with minimum hassle to the devotees. For better crowd management and tracking of pilgrims, 29 counters and control rooms have been set up at Katra and verification counters have been set up at 7 locations on the track.
In Yatra, which was 13.96 lakh in 1986, it increased to 1.04 crore in 2012. It had 93.24 lakh pilgrimages in 2013, 78.03 lakhs in 2014, 77.76 lakhs in 2015, 78.213 lakhs in 2015 and 78.21 lakhs in 2015.