At a review meeting held by Governor NN Vohra, who is also the chairman of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Ajeet Kumar Sahu, board Chief Executive Officer (CEO), said that of the 6,83,032 pilgrims who offered prayers at the Vaishno Devi shrine from January 16 to March 11 this year, 1,46,535 had gone through the natural cave.
The natural cave of the Vaishno Devi shrine remains open every year from around mid-January to mid-March. Around this time, the pilgrims rush is at its lowest. During this period, the natural cave is opened and closed on a daily basis at regular intervals, depending on the flow of the pilgrims.
The CEO said the natural cave was opened to the pilgrims for darshan of Pindis of Vaishno Devi after Makar Sankranti every year. However, the SDM Bhawan is authorised to regulate the darshan through the natural cave considering the yatra rush and congestion at Bhawan and to avoid any inconvenience to the pilgrims, he added.
He said due to the continuous heavy flow of pilgrims, continuous darshan via the old cave was not possible and hence it remained closed throughout the year and opened only for a few weeks after Makar Sankranti.
The pilgrimage witnessed a surge since Holi and the number of pilgrims paying obeisance is more than 20,000 daily.