Alternate route to Vaishno Devi shrine opened to pilgrims

The state government of Jammu and Kashmir has recently opened an alternate seven kilometre track to the Vaishno Devi shrine, atop a hillock overlooking Katra town in Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). Tarakote Marg will be formally inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 19.

N N Vohra, Governor of J&K, who is also the chairman of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVSB), took the new track during a visit to the shrine on Sunday and reviewed the preparedness for its operationalisation. The new route between Banganga and Adhkuwari is opened with an aim to decongest the rush of pilgrims on the existing six km track. The track was completed in seven years at a cost of Rs 80 crore.

The track is six meters wide and has a comfortable gradient and very attractive wayside amenities. The Tarakote Marg has two ‘bhojanalayas’ as well as seven toilet blocks equipped with facilities for the elderly and the specially-abled. A medical unit with doctors, paramedics, medicines and equipment had been established to facilitate pilgrims round-the-clock. The entire track is based on a ramp type design, without any steps and has an average and smooth gradient of one in 12 which, with interlocking anti-skid tiles, makes it easier for walking. Sixteen Water ATMs have been installed at approximate intervals of 400-500 meters to provide high-quality filtered drinking water free of cost to the pilgrims.

The upcoming Siar Dabri-Bhawan Material ropeway is being installed at a cost of Rs 12 crore. The trial runs of the ropeway are scheduled to commence within the next few days.  The three kilometre long ropeway has a carrying capacity of five tons of material per hour. There’s also a passenger ropeway being installed between Bhawan and Bhairon Ghati at a cost of Rs 60 crore.