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Pilgrim limit at Vaishno Devi raised to 7,000 per day for Navratri festival
As the Navratri festival starts on October 17, all arrangements have been made for the pilgrims to safely visit the cave shrine as per the coronavirus prevention guidelines issued by the Government. Ponies, pithoos and palkis will be allowed to operate between Katra and the shrine from October 15. Bhojanalayas (food stalls) have been set up along the track. So also accommodation facilities are available at major points from Jammu to Katra.

JAMMU, Oct 13: Seven thousand pilgrims will be allowed per day at the cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi from October 15 for Navratri festival, an official of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board said on Monday. Coronavirus restrictions on gatherings and hygiene are in force at the temple premises.

Board CEO Ramesh Kumar told PTI that the limit at present is 5,000 pilgrims per day and it is being raised in view of the Navratras. There is no special quota for Jammu and Kashmir. The Navratri festival at Vaishno Devi starts on October 17.

The registration of pilgrims will continue to be done online to avoid gathering at the yatra registration counters. The official said the work of floral decoration of the Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan at Atka will be completed on time, before the Shardiya Navaratras begin. The Shat Chandi Maha Yagya at the cave shrine during the Navratras will conclude with the purna ahuti on Mahanavami.

Ponies, pithoos and palkis will be allowed to operate on the track between Katra and the Bhawan from October 15 in a regulated manner. Food will be made available at the bhojanalayas of the board. The bookings by the devotees for the Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja and the Atka Aarti have also commenced. Accommodation facilities of the board at the Bhawan, Adhkuwari, Katra and Jammu have been opened. Battery-operated vehicles, passenger ropeway and helicopter services are also operating.

Bhojanalayas along the track, free community kitchen facilities at Tarakote Marg and the Prasad Kendra at Sanjichhat have started functioning.

In August, the cave shrine reopened for pilgrimage after nearly 5 months of suspension due to the novel coronavirus. Initially, there were restrictions that included a cap on the number of people allowed to visit the shrine every day, keeping in view the safety guidelines to curb the spread of Covid-19 disease.

The Railway Ministry has announced resumption of the Vande Bharat Express between New Delhi and Katra from October 15.

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