KASHMIR/JAMMU, February 21, 2024 (Swarajya): The challenging trek to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir might become a thing of the past. The government has chosen a contractor to construct a ropeway project, worth approximately US$24 million, leading to the sacred shrine. The 1.5 mile ropeway, starting from Tarakote near the Katra base camp and ending at Sanjhichhat, a mere third of a mile from the revered shrine, promises to significantly shorten travel time to just six minutes, making it easier for visitors and saving them both time and effort. The shrine board has proposed to execute, operate and maintain the new ropeway on build-own-operate-transfer basis. The project has a concession period of 33 years, inclusive of a three-year construction phase.

Nestled in the Trikuta mountains at an altitude of 5,200 feet, the Vaishno Devi Temple is located in Reasi district. Over 9.1 million pilgrims (25,000/day) had visited the holy temple in 2022, most of them undertaking a trek of nearly 7.5 miles from the base camp at Katra. So far, the only way to reach the Vaishno Devi temple is through the steep 7.5 mile-long trek along Katra-Adhkuwari-Bhawan route or taking a helicopter ride from Katra to Sanjhichhat. However, walking for 7.5 miles can be arduous and tiring for those not used to it. The ropeway could offer a much cheaper and far less arduous journey for pilgrims to the temple.