Come Navratra and everybody seems to be flocking towards Vaishno Devi. People's staunch devotion towards Vaishno Devi could be gauged from the fact that the online booking for aarti and atka darshan is full, leaving many dejected.
"I was planning to pay obeisance at the Vaishno Devi shrine on the second Navratra with my family. But I am disappointed as I didn't get the booking for aarti or atka darshan on any date during Navratra," said Abhishek Mahajan 29, from Jammu.
"My mother is very disappointed as we cannot perform darshan at the time of aarti. Now we have to be part of the queue. Next time, I will book for aarti at least a month prior," he added.
Normally, to perform atka darshan, Rs 1,000 is charged per person, and Rs 16,000 per person for aarti darshan (inside the cave near the holy pindies). However, during Navratra and on some other auspicious days, pilgrims have to pay Rs 21,000 per person. The charges are inclusive of aarti darshan for one person, a two-bedded AC room in Niharika, two-bedded room at Bhavan and maximum of three meals per person at Katra.
Aarti is performed at the holy cave twice a day, i.e. morning and evening. The seats for the aarti inside the holy cave are limited to 10, whereas for atka darshan, the total seats are 80 to 100.
The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board is expecting a very good response this Navratra season.
Shrine board officials said due to heavy rush during Navratra, the booking for the aarti and atka darshan is going full. Besides, a few seats are left for booking rooms and helicopter service.
The holy cave of the goddess is situated at an altitude of 5,200 ft, in the folds of the three-peaked mountain named Trikuta. The yatris have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Katra, which is 50 km from here.
The number of the pilgrims to the shrine is increasing every year. In 2011, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine received more than one crore devotees, the highest recorded number till now.