New golden gate to greet pilgrims at Vaishno Devi shrine this Navratra

Arun Sharma
A view of golden gate at the entrance of Mata Vaishnodevi shrine.

A new gate made of gold and silver and decorated with flowers from different parts of the world will greet pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine this Navratra which begins from September 29.

The gate which is being built with 10 kilos of gold will be put up at the old entrance of the cave shrine and will have pictures of Vaishnodevi, Mahagauri, Sidhidatri, Kalrati, Chamunda etc., carved on it, according to sources. The gate will also have a dome, golden flags and a golden ‘chattar .

On the right side of the entrance, there will be a six-foot-tall picture of Goddess Laxmi and a special prayer chamber for aarti on its left-hand side.

A picture of Lord Ganesha with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, along with Hanuman and Sun God will also be put up in the area around the cave s entrance, sources said, adding that a bell made of gold and silver and weighing 25 kilos will be hung inside. To add strength to the structure, nearly 1,100 kgs of silver and copper will also be used, the sources said.

Tulips from Holland, Hydrangea from Mylesia, Cymbidium from Thailand, and Orchids from Singapore has been sourced for the floral decorations on the gate. Flowers like roses, rajniganda and gainda are being brought from Uttar Pradesh and lilies from Palampur and Ooty.

The entire project has been funded by donors, said Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board, Simrandeep Singh. To complete it on time, twenty artisans from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh are working round the clock, Singh said.

The golden gate will replace the existing one at the entrance which has been made of marble, sources said, adding that it is the third time that it is being revamped. In 1962, a pilgrim had donated for the laying of marble at the entrance of the cave shrine which was later replaced with marble from Makrana in 2005 by the Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board.

The board has decided to illuminate the entire track between Katra to the shrine during the festival, also free langar will be organised for pilgrims including those observing fast, Singh said.

During Navratras, the Reasi district administration and Shrine Board have made elaborate arrangements for pilgrims whose number is expected to touch four lakh, said Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Verma.

To make the festival memorable, Verma said that there will be various cultural programmes, an all India devotional song competition, kavi samellan, hassya kavi samellan, wrestling competition and also programmes for specially-abled children, he said, adding that Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation have offered 50 per cent discount on hotel tariffs to tourists during the festival period.