All of us are aware of the situation prevailing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Religious places are closed in this situation for safety purposes. Vaishno Devi shrine is reopened for devotees from Sunday morning.
According to the officials, several arrangements are taken for devotees. Thermal scanners have been installed at different places on the route to Mata’s Shrine. No helpers or ponies will be allowed to move with the devotees, they have to walk the entire stretch from Katra base camp.
48-year old Singh said he come to the mandir at least once every month to offer his prayers. He feels really happy and excited and he feels blessed to be back on the first day of the reopening of the shrine.Singh had reached Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine, around 4 am and was among the first batch to offer prayers at the sanctum sanctorum, the holy cave which is the ultimate destination of the pilgrims.
The gates of the shrine reopened for the devotees around 6 am and Chief Executive Officer of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board Ramesh Kumar was seen taking last minute review of the measures to ensure safety of the pilgrims from the dreaded disease.
Ramesh Kumar said that Vaishno Devi pilgrimage was stopped on March 18 as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and now when the administration had decided to reopen the religious places, the board had taken all necessary measures keeping in mind the challenge posed by the dreaded disease
Ramesh Kumar also added that the government has decided a detailed standard operating procedure and the pilgrims are requested to follow the guidelines for their own safety and the safety of others.Only the pilgrims who have registered themselves online are being allowed to undertake the pilgrimage. The pilgrims, coming from red zones and outside Jammu and Kashmir would have to undergo COVID-19 test and only those pilgrims with negative reports will be allowed to move towards Bhawan.Children below 10 years, pregnant women, persons with ailments and those above 60 years have been advised to avoid religious places for the time being.
The pilgrims are directed to use traditional routes — from Katra to Bhawan via Banganga, Adhkuwari and Sanjichhat — to reach the shrine and Himkoti route-TarakoteMarg for their return journey.