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Vaishno Devi Yatra resumes after 5 months: Check important guidelines and SOP for pilgrims

Pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi in the Trikuta Hills of Jammu and Kashmir Reasi district resumed on Sunday (August 16), nearly 5 months after it was suspended due to COVID-19. Check out the important guidelines and SOPs to follow.

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Vaishno Devi Yatra resumes after 5 months: Check important guidelines and SOP for pilgrims
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Pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi in the Trikuta Hills of Jammu and Kashmir Reasi district resumed on Sunday (August 16), nearly 5 months after it was suspended due to COVID-19.

The gates of the shrine reopened for the devotees around 6 am and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) Ramesh Kumar was seen taking a last-minute review of the measures to ensure the safety of the pilgrims from the coronavirus disease.

The Vaishno Devi pilgrimage was stopped on March 18 as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and now when the administration has decided to reopen the place, the shrine board will abide to health norms induced by the Centre to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The government has come out with a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and the pilgrims are requested to follow the guidelines.

SOPs taken by Vaishno Devi Shrine Board:

1. The management is testing people for the COVID-19 virus to keep a check if any infected person visited the premises. There are sanitiser dispensers at places and thermal screening is also being done.

"The pilgrims coming from red zones, and outside Jammu and Kashmir would have to undergo COVID-19 test and only those with negative reports will be allowed to move towards Bhawan," Kumar said.

2. Only 2,000 people will be allowed to visit the shrine per day.

Ramesh Kumar, on Saturday, said that during the first week of the resumption of pilgrimage, there shall be a cap of 2,000 pilgrims per day, including 1,900 from within Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 100 from outside the Union Territory.

"The situation will be reviewed thereafter and the decision will be taken accordingly," said Kumar.

3. Pilgrims will be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage after registration through online mode only in order to avoid any assembly of persons at the Yatra Registration Counters.

4. The pilgrims will have to walk the entire trek from Katra base camp as no helpers, ponies, pithus or palkis will be allowed to ply on the tracks.

5. The yatra will move in a uni-directional manner. The traditional route 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 the Bhawan.

6. The pilgrims will be required to install the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones. Wearing face masks and face cover is mandatory.

7. Children below 10 years, pregnant women, persons with comorbidities, and those above 60 years have been advised to avoid religious places for the time being.

8. In order to avoid congregational gatherings, booking/sitting of pilgrims in the Atka Aarti area/Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja will not be allowed until further orders.

Shrine Board also launched a massive sanitisation campaign right from Katra en route to Bhawan and in the Bhawan area for ensuring utmost cleanliness before the resumption of the yatra.

The shrine situated on the Trikuta Hills in Reasi district of Jammu division is the most thronged religious place in J&K. Before the pandemic, over 2.40 crore devotees have been visiting the shrine each year.

(With inputs from agencies)

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