Figures maintained by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) revealed that 69.55 lakh yatris had darshan of natural pindies of the Goddess this year by this evening. The number of yatris was expected to touch seven million on Sunday.
"The yatra would easily touch or even surpass eight million (80 lakh) this year as a period of more than two months was still left. Even as the months of November and December are considered to be lean period of yatra, by no means the number of yatris was going to be less than 10 lakh in the remaining days", official sources said.
As against 69.55 lakh pilgrims paying obeisance to the Goddess Vaishno Devi this year so far, the number during corresponding period last year was 56.24 lakh. This year, the pilgrimage has recorded an increase of 13.30 lakh so far.
During the month of October so far, 5.22 lakh yatris have visited the cave shrine as against 5.05 lakh last year, an increase of 17,000 for the month.
This year, the number of yatra has not declined after Diwali festival as used to be in the past. As against 15,766 pilgrims visiting the shrine on October 20 last year, the figure this year stood at 30,390 while on October 21, the number of yatris went up from 11,948 last year to 26,948 this year. Yesterday, 24,871 pilgrims visited the Bhawan while the number this day last year was 10,728.
SMVDSB Additional CEO Dr Mandeep K Bhandari told the Excelsior that projects for creation of additional accommodation in Manokamna at Vaishno Devi Bhawan and Niharika at Katra town, the base camp of the shrine are likely to be completed by the end of this year.
In January this year, 4.14 lakh pilgrims had visited Mata Vaishno Devi shrine as compared to 3.40 lakh last year while the number of yatris in February was 2.97 lakh, up from 2.25 lakh the previous year. In March, 6.73 lakh yatris had darshan of natural pindies of the Goddess, the number being 6.18 lakh last year.
In April, the number of pilgrims stood at 6.99 lakh from 6.23 lakh last year. However, it was in May when the number of yatris came down to 7.25 lakh this year from 9.65 lakh last year. In June as well the yatra was down to 10.13 lakh as compared to 11.18 lakh last year.
In the month of July 9.09 lakh yatris visited the holy cave shrine, averaging about 30,000 per day while in the same month last year only 5.31 lakh pilgrims had come to the Bhawan. In August 8.25 lakh pilgrims offered prayers to the Goddess against 2.71 lakh last year.
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