The helicopter and ropeway service at the famous cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir remained suspended for the second day on Saturday due to inclement weather, Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) Ramesh Kumar said. However, he said the pilgrimage is going on smoothly despite heavy snowfall and all necessary arrangements have been put in place to facilitate the devotees who are thronging the cave shrine atop Trikuta hills from across the country.
The shrine along with adjoining areas witnessed first snowfall of the season on Thursday and Friday, forcing suspension of the helicopter and ropeway service. Over one feet of snow had accumulated in the shrine area, including Bhawan and Bahiron Ghati, Sanjichhat and Himkoti.
"Barring suspension of chopper and ropeway service due to inclement weather, the track is open and the pilgrimage is going on smoothly," the CEO of SMVDSB told PTI.
He said while 8,500 pilgrims visited the cave shrine on Friday amid snowfall, 8,000 had left the base camp Katra for the shrine by foot till this afternoon to pay their obeisance at the shrine.
Kumar said the resumption of the helicopter and the ropeway service to the shrine depends on the improvement of the weather. "Once the weather allows, both the suspended services will be resumed."
He said the shrine board had made all necessary arrangements for the pilgrims. "The power supply is normal, heating arrangements have been made at different places while there is also sufficient stock of blankets and adequate accommodation for the pilgrims," he said.
Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the shrine, witnessed a dip in the night temperature which settled at 7.7 degrees Celsius on Saturday.