Arduous pilgrimage: 44-yr-old devout walks for 29 days to reach Vaishno Devi from UP
A 44-year-old devotee, who walked for 29 days and covered around 1,000km to pay his respects at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra, was finally able to undertake the yatra on Saturday.
The man, who had not got himself registered as a pilgrim and did not have Covid certificate, was initially not allowed to visit the cave shrine nestled in the Trikuta hills.The devotee, Gore Lal, of Mainpuri in UP, had embarked on the pilgrimage on August 5 and reached Katra on September 2.
In the wake of the pandemic, the shrine board has capped the number of pilgrims allowed to undertake the journey per day and has also made online registration and a recent Covid-19 negative report a requisite for undertaking the journey.
Lal sought help from a local shopkeeper, who informed the deputy commissioner of his plight.
Reasi district commissioner (DC) Indu Kanwal Chib said, “This man, a staunch devotee of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, walked all the way from UP to reach Katra. He had to be quarantined for a few days, after which a Covid-19 test was conducted. Once he tested negative, he was allowed to proceed for the darshan.”
Lal has reached Ardhkuwari. The DC clarified that concessions were only made in this case because the man had undertaken a 29-day journey. She said, “We cannot allow unregistered people to visit the shrine. Though, I am a stickler for rules, I relented in this case because the man walked for almost a month to reach here,” she said.
Now, 500 pilgrims from outside J&K can visit shrine each day
With the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi yatra picking up pace, the administration has now increased the number of pilgrims from outside J&K allowed to visit the shrine to 500 per day. A total of 2,000 pilgrims can visit the cave shrine per day.
The shrine re-opened on august 16 after a gap of five months. Shrine board CEO Ramesh Kumar said bookings for the Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja (SSVP) have also commenced online.
Accommodations at Bhawan, Adhkuwari, Katra and Jammu have also been opened for the pilgrims. The pilgrims can also avail facilities such as battery-operated vehicles, passenger ropeways and helicopter services.
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