Jammu: President Droupadi Murmu, who is on a two-day maden visit to Jammu and Kashmir, will pay obeisance at Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra-Reasi on Thursday and inaugurate a newly constructed skywalk and 1500 lockers built in Parvati Bhawan.
Officials told a local news gathering agency that on her second day of J&K sojourn, the president accompanied by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha will visit Vaishno Devi shrine, situated at Trikuta Hills, in Reasi district to offer prayers besides inauguration first of its kind skywalk.
The skywalk, costing Rs 15 crore, serves as a security measure to segregate devotees traveling to and from the shrine.
The Vaishno Devi shrine will have a skywalk near the bhawan (temple) area that would provide separate paths for incoming and outgoing pilgrims. It will be 20-feet above the track level. While the present route will be used to exit from the temple, the skywalk, an elevated route, will provide entry towards the temple area or vice-versa. The length of the skywalk will be nearly 300 metres and its width will be 2.5 metres.
Conceptualised with an emphasis on safety and facility, the skywalk will have seating arrangements for senior citizens and women. In addition, two waiting halls with washroom facilities are being constructed along the skywalk to ensure seating arrangement for around 150 devotees.
Officials said the facility, 20 feet above the track level, would help overcome the problem of multidirectional flow of yatra and a chaotic condition between Manokamna Bhawan and gate number 3, the scene of stampede on New Year’s Day this year, in which 12 people lost their lives and 16 others were injured.
It was the first such tragedy at the shrine, where pilgrims had reached after a 13-km trek from the base camp of Katra, following which Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also the chairperson of the SMVDSB, had announced several decisions to ensure the safety of the devotees, including a provision for 100% online registration.
The skywalk, situated on the narrow path within the Mata Vaishno Devi temple complex, aims to alleviate congestion and enhance the safety of Mata’s devotees.
Spanning 300 meters, the skywalk provides a dedicated path for pilgrims, separating those ascending to the shrine from those descending. Additionally, the skywalk features nine paths, each adorned with depictions of the nine forms of Goddess.
Anshul Garg, Chief executive Officer of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, explains that apart from crowd control, the skywalk also guarantees comfort for devotees visiting the shrine.
The facility is expected to reduce congestion within the complex, ensuring smoother movement for worshippers.
Complementing the skywalk, the board has also provided 1500 lockers for pilgrims’ convenience.
Pilgrims can store their belongings in these lockers without having to wait in long queues. To access this facility, pilgrims should proceed to the Parvati Bhawan within the temple complex and hand over their luggage to Shrine Board employees. A wristband will be provided in exchange, securing their belongings during their darshan. After completing the visit, devotees can return the wristband to the Mata Vaishno Devi Board employees to retrieve their belongings.
President Murmu’s visit coincides with the Shardiya Navratri festival which commences from October 15 and continues till October 24.
The new facilities add significance for the pilgrims, as it will facilitate the safe passage of the large number of devotees expected during this period.
The skywalk and lockers are significant improvements that enhance the overall pilgrimage experience and ensure the comfort and security of pilgrims. (KNO)