Natural Cave of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine open | india | Hindustan Times
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Natural Cave of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine open

More than 61.75 lakh people have already visited the shrine during this year and it is expected to cross the last year's record total of 62.5 lakh, reports Faisul Yaseen.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 18:55 IST

The natural cave of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra would soon be thrown open for the pilgrims as this marks the lean season of the pilgrimage in the otherwise busiest year so far.

More than 61.75 lakh people have already visited the shrine during this year and it is expected that the figures may cross the last year's record total of 62.5 lakh.

The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra, 56 km from Jammu, every year gets pilgrims in lakhs and due to the huge rush, the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (MVDSB) authorities allow the passage of the pilgrims through a man made cave constructed parallel to the natural cave,
which is taller in height and broader as well.

The passage of the pilgrims through the natural cave, which is narrower and shorter in height, is stopped to evade stampedes as the shrine during the peak season everyday gets pilgrims in abundance.

The pilgrims have to kneel down to pass through the natural cave through which water from a natural spring in the mountains, considered holy, passes.

Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is an adobe of three goddesses – Durga (the goddess of power), Saraswati (the goddess of Knowledge) and Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth). At the face of the cave are two idols of two tigers, which are plated with gold. As tigers are called 'Shers' in local parlance, the goddess Durga is also known as 'Sheren Wali Matta' (the mother of tigers).

Additional Chief Executive Officer Puneet Kumar told Hindustan Times that the MVDSB would soon open the natural cave for the pilgrims, as this remains the lean season of the pilgrimage to the shrine.

Kumar said that the Shrine Board was confident that the last year's record of the highest number of pilgrims visiting the shrine would be bettered this year as the total number of pilgrims visiting last year were just 75,000 more than what have already arrived this year, this too despite a number of terrorist attacks on the tourists and pilgrims and the rough weather in the area.

The pilgrims from all over the country visit the shrine every year and trek a distance of 13 km mountainous area from Katra en route the shrine.

Midway from Katra to the Vaishno Devi shrine is another natural cave Garb Joon at Ada Kunwari, where, according to beliefs, the goddess Durga had stayed for nine months. The pilgrims here also to pass the cave have to kneel down, as this cave also is narrow and short.

Faisul Yaseen
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