Record 10 million pilgrims visit Vaishno Devi shrine

Jammu : The popular pilgrimage to the Vaishnodevi shrine set a new record on Wednesday when it crossed the 10 million mark of visitors, a first in any year.

Rakesh Vishwakarma, a doctor from Jaipur, Rajasthan, registered as the 10 millionth pilgrim, according to sources in the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board that manages the affairs of the shrine and the pilgrimage.

This is for the first time that the pilgrimage has crossed the 10 million mark in one year.

The number of pilgrims in 2010 was 8.75 million.

An official announcement is expected to be made by late Wednesday evening, according to the shrine board sources.

The board was formed in 1986 to manage the shrine.

“That time the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine was 1.3 million,” Additional Chief Executive Officer M. K. Bhandari said .

The shrine cave is nestled in the Trikuta Hills, about 50 km north of Jammu. Located at a height of 5,200 feet, it is a 12 km trek from Katra, the base camp of the pilgrimage.

The shrine, dedicated to Goddess Durga, has three natural rock formations called ‘pindies’.

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