Jammu, Dec 25 (IANS) A record number of 9.9 million pilgrims from India and abroad visited the Hindu shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Jammu region this year, an official said Sunday.
The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) said the number of pilgrims has been increasing by about a million every year in the last four years.
'We are any time about to touch the figure of 10 million pilgrims,' Board additional chief executive officer M.K. Bhandari said.
The number of pilgrims in 2010 was 8.75 million.
The board was formed in 1986 to manage the shrine. 'That time the number of pilgrims visiting the shrine was 1.3 million,' Bhandari said.
The shrine cave is nestled in Trikuta Hills, about 50 km north of Jammu. Situated at a height of 5,200 feet, it is a 12 km trek from Katra, the base camp of the pilgrimage.
The shrine, dedicated to Goddess Durga, has three natural rock formation called 'pindies'.