Nearly five months after being suspended, pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi in the Trikuta Hills of Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district reopened today. The yatra was suspended on March 18 in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier on Saturday, Ramesh Kumar, the Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVSB) said in the first week there shall be a cap of 2,000 pilgrims each day of which 1,900 would be from Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 100 from outside.
The situation will be reviewed thereafter and decisions will be taken accordingly, he said.
Jammu & Kashmir: Mata Vaishno Devi Temple will reopen for public today, nearly 5 months after it was suspended due to COVID-19. Only 2,000 people will be allowed to visit the temple per day. A devotee says, "I'm happy that people can visit the temple once again." pic.twitter.com/BDYQA1z5WK— ANI (@ANI) August 16, 2020
On Tuesday evening, the J&K government announced guidelines and SOPs for religious shrines, including guidelines for the pilgrimage to the Vaishno Devi Shrine located on Trikuta hills in Katra in Reasi district.
"Major shrines like Charar-e-Sharief, Hazratbal, Mata Vaishno Deviji, Nangali Sahib, Shahdara Sharief, Shiv Khori etc., where devotees visit from all parts of the Union Territory and the country, shall be required to take special precautions. These shrines, to begin with on August 16, shall be permitted only for a limited number of visitors/devotees from outside J&K," the government said in its order.
People above the age of 60, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, children below the age of 10 have been advised not to visit any religious place in Jammu and Kashmir.
Check Guidelines for Vaishno Devi Yatra
- A maximum of 2,000 pilgrims will be allowed to undertake the yatra in a day. Within the ceiling of 2,000 pilgrims, only 100 people from outside Jammu and Kashmir will be allowed to participate in a day.
- To avoid crowding at registration counters in Katra, the base camp for the yatra, registration of pilgrims will be done only through the online mode
- The COVID-19 antigen test will be made mandatory for all devotees arriving from other states
- Pilgrims will be allowed to proceed only if they test negative. Pilgrims coming from red zone districts of Jammu and Kashmir will also have to undergo the same test
- Not more than 600 people, including pilgrims, staff and security personnel, will be allowed in the Bhawan complex
- Congregations won't be allowed and proper social distancing will have to be maintained inside the shrine
- The pilgrims will be required to install Aarogya Setu App on their mobile phones. Wearing face masks and face cover is mandatory and they will have to undergo thermal scanning at yatra entry points
- Cloakrooms will be allowed to open but blanket stores will remain closed, initially
- Booking and sitting of pilgrims in Atka Aarti area and Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja will not be allowed till further orders.
- Traditional routes -- from Katra to Bhawan via Banganga, Adhkuwari and Sanjichhat -- will be used for going up and Himkoti route-Tarakote Marg will be used for coming back from Bhawan.