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Jammu and Kashmir
Pilgrim Places

J & K has a host of pilgrim places visited by thousands round the year.


Shahdara Sharief
symbol of communal harmony, the Shahdara Sharief shrine is a popular tourist spot in Rajouri district. Baba Ghulam Shah, born in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, made Shahdara his home and Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs visit the shrine to offer prayers and seek blessings of the Pir. Buses, cars and jeeps carrying pilgrims ply regularly on the road from Rajouri, which is 30 km from the shrine and 158 km from Jammu.

Ranbireshwar Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple was built by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in1883 AD. It has one central lingam measuring seven and a half feet, twelve smaller Shiva lingams of crystal and galleries with thousands of Shiva lingams fixed on stone slabs. It is located on the Shalimar Road near the New Secretariat, Jammu.

Raghunath Temple
Dedicated to Lord Rama of the epic Ramayana, the Raghunath temple's inner walls are covered with gold sheet on three sides. Construction of the temple was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh, founder of the Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir in 1835 AD and completed by his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh 1860 AD. There are lakhs of 'saligrams' in the numerous galleries of the temple. The surrounding temples dedicated to the various gods and goddesses of the epic Ramayana, form a part of the Raghunath Temple Complex, which is situated in the heart of Jammu city.

Peer Khoh Circular Road, Jammu (3.5 km)
There is a Shiva lingam formed naturally in the cave shrine located on Circular Road. Legend has it that the cave leads underground to many other cave shrines, though neither the antiquity nor how they were formed is known.

More on Kashmir
Tourist Information

Places to Visit
More on Ladakh
Pilgrim Places
Amarnath Yatra
Vaishno Devi

Journey to Ladakh
Peer Baba
At the rear end of the civil airport is the famous dargah of the Muslim saint, Peer Budhan Ali Shah. On Thrusdays, Hindu and Sikh devotees vastly outnumber their Muslim brethren at the shrine.


Idgah (8 km)
Of the numerous idgahs in the city, Ziarat Baba Buddan Shah, located on the outskirts of Jammu city, is very popular among all sections of society and is visited by a large number of people throughout the year.

Within Srinagar, on its highest hill, is the Shankaracharya temple. The Shiva temple, as Kalhana believes, was constructed by Raja Gopaditya in 371 B.C. and, as such, is the oldest shrine in Kashmir.
Another shrine of Baba Buddan Shah is located at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. Other idgahs are Ziarat Baba Roshan Shah Wali near Gumat Bazar, Ziarat Peer Mitha and Paanch-Peer situated at a little distance from the Maharaja's palace on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

Gurudwara Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Upper Baazar has a three ft. long white coloured marble statue of Guru Nanak Dev installed here by Maharaja Partap Singh. The splendid gurudwara complex of Ashram Digiana located between Gandhi Nagar and Nanak Nagar has a Guru Nanak Mission Hospital attached to it. Other gurudwaras are Talli Sahib near Tallab Tillo and Gurudwara Kalgidhar, near Rehari.

The Protestant church on Wazarat road is the oldest church in this city. There is also the Roman Catholic Church near Jewel Chowk, Presentation Church of Virgin Mary and St. Mary Church on G.L.Dogra Road.

Buddha Amarnath
Northeast of Poonch Town on the left bank of Pulsata stream is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva. Unlike other temples, it is located on the foothills and has a Shivling of white stone. It is believed that Ravana's grandfather, Pulsata Rishi performed his tapasya here and thus the nearby Loran stream is also known as Pulsata stream. Older than the shrine of Amarnath in Kashmir, this shrine is visited by thousands of people on Raksha Bandhan. Road transport is readily available to and from Poonch, which is 25 km away.


Shankaracharya Temple
Within Srinagar, on its highest hill, is the Shankaracharya temple. The Shiva temple, as Kalhana believes, was constructed by Raja Gopaditya in 371 B.C. and, as such, is the oldest shrine in Kashmir, though it is not certain if the temple exists in the same form as it had been built more than two thousands years ago. The first repair of the temple is believed to have been undertaken during the reign of Lalitaditya in the eighth century A.D. According to the historian Shrivara, Zain-ul-Abideen conducted the second repairs of the temple after it had been damaged in an earthquake. The third time repair was undertaken was during the Governorship of Sheikh Mohi-ud-Din when the temple is believed to have been named as Shankaracharya. It is believed that the philosopher, Shankaracharya stayed at this site when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma. Before this date, the temple was known as Gopadri, as the earlier edifice on the same site was built by king Gopaditya.

Located at 3,883 meters (12,740 feet) in the Great Himalayan Range, the holy cave shrine of Amarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva, whose presence is associated with the dawn of time.
The Dogra ruler, Maharaja Gulab Singh, constructed stone stairs to the temple. In 1925, the temple was electrified. The temple, besides being a prominent Hindu religious place, is of great archaeological importance. The temple commands a magnificent panoramic view of Srinagar city.

How to get There
Shankaracharya Temple lies across the Nehru Park, a beautiful island within the Dal Lake. One can either trek to Shankaracharya Temple from the Durganag Temple lying in Civil Lines area or alternatively one can take a vehicle along Boulevard Road, till the steps leading to the shrine.

Hazratbal Shrine
The Hazratbal Shrine, situated on the left bank of the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, is the most revered Muslim shrine of Kashmir. Dedicated to Prophet Mohammad, whose Moi-e-Muqqadus, or sacred hair, is preserved here, the shrine is known by many names including Hazratbal, Assar-e-Sharief, Madinat-us-Sani, Dargah Sharief and Dargah.

Emperor Shah Jahan's subedar, Sadiq Khan, laid out a garden and constructed a palatial building, Ishrat Mahal or 'pleasure house' in 1623. However, the Emperor, during his visit in 1634, ordered that the building be converted into a prayer house. Moi-e-Muqqadus was brought to Kashmir in 1699, during the reign of Aurangzeb and was first kept in the shrine of Naqashbad Sahib in the heart of the city. Later it was shifted to Hazratbal in view of the unprecedented rush of people who came here for a glimpse of the Moi-e-Muqqadus. The construction of the present marble structure was started by the Muslim Auqaf Trust in 1968 and completed in 1979. The Moi-e-Muqqadas is displayed on various occasions related to the life of the prophet and his four holy companions.

How to get There
Regular transport is available from various points in Srinagar city. The shrine can also be reached from Dal Lake.

Khir Bhawani Temple (Tullamula)
The temple is associated with the Hindu goddess, Ragnya Devi. According to legend, Lord Rama worshipped Ragyna Devi during his exile and desired that Hanuman shift the seat of the Mother after his exile. It is believed that the temple was shifted from Shadipora to the present site according to the wishes of goddess Ragnya conveyed in a dream to one Pandit Rugnath Gadroo.

Khir Bhawani was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 and renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh. Surrounded by streams and chinar trees, the idol of the deity is established within a hexagonal spring in a small white marble temple. An annual festival is held here on Jesht Ashtami (May-June) when Hindus visit the place in large numbers to offer prayers and seek the blessings of the deity. Devotees also came here every Shukla Paksh Ashtami, through the year, to perform 'hawans.'

The holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located at a height of 5,300 feet in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta mountains, forming a part of the lower Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir.

The shrine of Shah-e-Hamdan or Khanqah e Moulla is situated on the banks of the river Jhelum in the old city. The shrine was originally constructed by Sultan Sikander (1389-1413 AD) in the memory of Muslim preacher Mir Syed Ali Hamdani who had visited Kashmir and stayed there to meditate and preach.

In 1480, the shrine was gutted in a devastating fire and reconstructed on an old edifice in a larger area and later changed to a two-storey shrine in 1493 AD. In 1731 AD, the shrine was destroyed again in a fire and rebuilt by Abul Barkat Khan. People come to observe the death anniversary of Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, falling on the 6th day of Zilhaj, the last month of the Muslim calendar.

How to get There
Regular transport in the form of Matadors are available from the city centre, Amira Kadal. Taxis and auto rickshaws can be hired almost from anywhere in Srinagar city and adjoining areas.


Chhatti Padshahi
Chhatti Padshahi Gurudwara is situated near Srinagar.

Awantipura (29 km)
The temple ruins at Avantipur represent some of the finest examples of architecture of this region. Dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva, they were built in 9th century AD by King Avantivaman.

Amarnath Yatra

Located at 3,883 meters (12,740 feet) in the Great Himalayan Range, the holy cave shrine of Amarnath is dedicated to Lord Shiva, whose presence is associated with the dawn of time. The oldest and most sacred book of Hindus, the Rig Veda mentions the presence of the ascetic Shiva, the god of destruction.

Pilgrimage is an important part of the Indian tradition. This soul-stirring journey is undertaken to have a face-to-face communion with the gods and experience a higher state of spirituality. Of all the pilgrimages, the one to Amarnath is considered as one of the most sacred. It is an event that tends to awaken the divinity embedded in the deep recesses of man's mind and to feel the serene impact of the Great Spirit.


The cave is accessible only during a brief period during the months of July and August. The yatris encounter a charming environment of thick green forests, crystal clear waters of mountain streams and an exhilarating air. The spell that nature casts on the yatri's mind brings peace and creates within him a new rhythm, a new spirit. The enchanting route is traversed on foot or horse. The yatris feel a tremendous sense of fulfilment and all fatigue is forgotten. Even when the temperature touches zero degrees Celsius, the yatris are driven by their faith to take a dip in the almost freezing rivulet of Amravati.

At the time of the yatra, inside the cave, a pure white ice-lingam comes into being. Water trickles, somewhat mysteriously, in slow rhythm, from the top of the cave and freezes into ice. It first forms a solid base and then on it a lingam begins to rise, almost imperceptibly, and acquires full form on Purnima. It is believed that on that day, Lord Shiva revealed the secrets of life to his consort Parvati, the beautiful daughter of the Himalayas. It is a mystery how the ice-lingam is formed on the ice-base, how it attains its full form and height on the night of the full moon, and how a pair of pigeons appears on the scene. Even the most sceptic mind is persuaded to believe that all these occurrences could not be a mere coincidence.

In a state of heightened sublimity, the yatri experiences the impact of an invisible yet all-pervading, incomprehensible but all-conveying force. Lord Shiva, sitting calmly beneath an imperishable canopy, provided by the "mount of immortality" seems to convey in hushed silence the message of inseparability of the processes of creation and destruction.


Swami Vivekananda's experience at the holy cave was so spiritual and saturating that for days after he could speak of nothing else but Shiva all in all; the eternal one, the great monk, rapt in meditation and aloof from the world. Such is the impression that the Amarnath Yatra leaves on the minds of most of the yatris.

But the significance of the yatra does not end at the personal level. It extends to the much larger issue of cultural unity and vision of India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Kathiawar to Kamrup. Its great and historic importance as an underlying integrating force needs to be recognized.

Legend says that Shiva was married to the same soul in different bodies. First he married Sati. She burned herself in the holy fire or 'Yagna', which was being performed by her father, because she could not take the insult to her husband, Lord Shiva. Sati was reborn as Parvati, daughter of the Himalayas. But her soul was married to Shiva so she meditated on him. And finally Shiva married Parvati.


On Parvati's insistence, Shiva agreed to reveal the secret of creation to her. Shiva found a secluded cave in the Himalayan range where he decided to impart the secret of creation. While he was revealing the absolute truth of immortality and eternal truth, Parvati dozed off. The cave in which Shiva had divulged the secret is now called Amarnath, meaning the Immortal God. It is believed that while Lord Shiva was speaking to Parvati, a pair of pigeons appeared and overheard the discourse. It is believed that every year, these doves come to Amarnath at the time of the yatra as an incarnation of Shiva and Parvati. Many pilgrims claim to spot these doves though there is no presence of any other birds in the area.

During the period when the saint, Kashyap is believed to have drained the Kashmir valley, another saint travelling in the Himalayas discovered this cave and the lingams. When people heard about the discovery they came and called the cave Amarnath or the abode of Shiva. Later, a folk tale was attached to the legends, which claims that a Muslim shepherd, Buta Malik was given a sack of coal by a saint while he was in the mountains. When he returned home, Malik found that the coal had turned into gold. Malik rushed back to thank the saint but instead he found a cave and the lingams. This became a place of pilgrimage and till date, Muslim shepherds show the way to pilgrims. Part of the donations received in the cave is given to the descendants of Malik while the rest is directed towards the trust managing the shrine.

Trek to Amarnath
Amarnath cave is located in a narrow gorge on the farther end of Lidder valley at 3,888 m above sea level. The cave is 45 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from Srinagar. The trek begins in July-August. Despite being an extremely difficult trek, millions of devotees come to pay homage to Shiva in one of his Himalayan abodes.


The yatra, in its present religious form, commences with the ceremony of "Chari Mubarak," at the Dashnami temple, Akhara, Srinagar. After the prayers, the yatri acquires a sort of walking stick. It has both physical and religious significance: physically, it helps the yatri in steadying himself on a snow covered slippery path; spiritually it reminds him of his resolve at the temple at times when his faith begins to waver in the face of a long and arduous journey. Nowadays people travel to Pahalgam first and then undertake the onward journey of 45 km on foot, in batches. Overnight halts are in encampments that are set up at fixed distances and give the appearance of a military site. The return trek has to be covered in five days with night halts at Chandanwari, Wawjan and Panchtarni. The distance of 12.8 km from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is completed in five to six hours with the first night halt at Chandanwari. The trail is along thick and green woodlands of breathtaking beauty. The playful stream of Lidder meanders and dances alongside, showing its sparkling white foam with the pride and purity of a maiden descending directly from the lap of the perennial Himalayas. One main attraction of this trail is the bridge on the river Lidder, which is covered with snow even when the surroundings are bereft of snow.

From Chandanwari, there begins a steep ascent to Pishu Ghati (3,171 meters), reminding the yatris that the path to salvation involves superhuman struggle and stamina. A feeling of having reached an ethereal destination overwhelms yatris when they reach Seshnag (3,570 meters) so striking is the beauty, the ambience and the very colour of this great lake. Seshnag symbolizes the cosmic ocean in which Lord Vishnu, the preserver of this universe, moves, reclining on a seven-headed mythical snake. The second night halt is at Wawjan overlooking the deep waters of Sheshnag Lake and the glaciers beyond it.


The third and the last camp en route to the cave is at Panchtarni. This 13 km trek gains height at 4,600 m and then descends to the green meadows of Panchtarni. The cave is 6 km from here. There are long queues waiting to enter the cave for a darshan before returning to Panchtarni. The return journey takes two more days.

There are few precautions which have to be taken on this yatra. Children below 12 years and infirms are not allowed. It is imperative that one is adequately equipped against the cold in the high altitude. It is important to be aware of high altitude sickness and take basic precautions to prevent it. There are ponies available to carry provisions and personal belongings.

Managing this yatra is a mammoth task and requires planning and coordination. The committee managing the shrine keeps maintains the route, ensuring that it is free of boulders and snow, in co-operation with military and civil authorities. More recently, there have been incidents of terrorists having tried to disrupt the yatra, and there is heavy armed protection provided to the yatris. A yatra-officer is appointed to conduct the pilgrimage.


General Information
Requests for reservation of accommodation and porters or pony should be sent to the Assistant Director Tourism, Pahalgam. The yatra organised by the Tourism Department, Jammu and Kashmir commences on specific dates from Pahalgam. More information can be obtained from the Tourist offices in various cities.

Vaishno Devi
The holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located at a height of 5,300 feet in a beautiful recess of the Trikuta mountains, forming a part of the lower Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir. The journey here takes you through awesome wilderness amidst snow- capped mountains and sprawling forests, to the shrine, sacred and mystical.

Every day of the year scores of devotees ascend steep pathways that cut across the hillside. A common faith among people is that goddess Vaishno Devi sends a 'call' to her devotees; and once heralded, the pilgrim finds himself compelled to march towards the holy shrine of the great goddess. It is believed that a supernatural power seems to draw pilgrims across the mountains, so they climb those great heights, step by step, chanting "prem se bolo, Jai Mata di". Even those who are unused to walking the slightest distances, accomplish the difficult ascent of innumerable stairs. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the Himalayan trail to Mata Vaishno Devi's abode to ask for a boon does not return disappointed.


There are many who journey here year after year to pay obeisance regardless of their faith, creed or class, caste or religion, because Mata Vaishno Devi transcends all such artificial barriers.

As legend goes, more than 700 years ago, Vaishno Devi, a devotee of Lord Vishnu had taken a vow of celibacy. Bhairon Nath, a tantric, using his tantric powers, and was able to see her going towards the Trikuta mountains and chased her. The goddess feeling thirsty at Banganga, shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of her feet, is the place where she rested. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate her, and this cave is called Garbh Joon. She kept 'Veer-Langur' on guard outside the cave and asked him not to allow Bhairon to enter the cave. When Bhairon Nath tried to force an entry to the cave, Veer-Langur offered resistance and a terrific battle started. Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with her trident when Bhairon located her.

Thereafter Devi took the form of goddess 'Chandi and beheaded Bhairon Nath, whose skull was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at a place now known as Bhairon Ghati. Beheaded Bhairon now prayed to Mata for mercy and was granted a boon of liberation. She said, "My devotees will visit your place after they have come to me for 'darshan'." The desires of devotees will be fulfilled, if they visit your place. A temple has been constructed at the spot where Bhairon's head fell. Accordingly, the pilgrims visit Bhairon temple after offering prayers at Mata's cave.


The Yatra
It is mandatory to obtain a slip from the Yatra Registration Counter at the Tourism Reception Centre, Katra Bus Stand, without which, crossing of Banganga check-post is not permitted. The yatra begins at Katra and pilgrims have to cover 13 km. of terrain on foot to reach the shrine. At Banganga, a kilometre away from the starting point is a security checkpost. After 6 km of trekking, you reach Adhkawari, the holy cave where Mata meditated for nine months. Most devotees catch a breath at Sanji Chatt after 9.5 km of walking. Accommodation is also available at this place. The shrine is just 3.5 km away. By showing your yatra slip at the registration office at the Bhawan, you are given a number, which will determine your place in the queue for darshan.

At the Bhavan there is provision for bathing, and for keeping your belongings in safe custody, as leather items are not permitted. Blankets are also available at a refundable deposit.

Prasad, "chunari" and coconuts can be bought from shops situated at the entrance of the Bhawan. In case of overcrowding, you might have to wait patiently in a queue according to your batch number. Before entering the cave, the coconut has to be deposited against a token. The whole valley reverberates with the chanting of "Jai Mata di".


According to legend, the boulder at the mouth of the holy cave is the petrified torso of Bhairon who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments. Inside the cave, there are three natrual pindis of Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali which represent the creative, preservative and destructive aspects of the divine energy images of three deities - Mahakali, Maa Saraswati and Maa Lakshmi. The holy Ganga's cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus feet of the Mata's 'Pindian'. Previously the shrine had only one natural entry cave, but now two more exit caves have been constructed. Remember to collect your coconut here.

Bhairon Mandir
It is believed that the journey to Mata's shrine is complete only after visiting the shrine of Bhairon, 2.5 km from the Bhawan, on your way back. You have to collect your belongings before going to this shrine, as the return path from the Bhairon shrine joins the main path at Sanji Chatt.

Do's and Don'ts
Pithus (or porters) can be hired for carrying your luggage. Those who have problems climbing, can hire the services of a pony or dandi (palenquin). It is advised that you should avail of the services of only registered people, whether it be porters, pony or dandiwallas and keep their token for the time period they are engaged.


Missing persons can be located through the public address systems from the counters at Katra, Banganga, Adhkawari and Darbar.

The entire 13 km route is quite wide and tiled. Besides, the whole path is lit up every night by powerful sodium vapour lamps. Avoid overstraining on the climb. The track is preferable to the stairs.

Receipts for all payments made to the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board as well as private vendors are available and should be insisted on. Official rate lists for all services are available. Use only the donation boxes provided at various places by Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board. In case of donations at the donation counters of the Board at Katra (Central Office/ Vishram Ghar), Adhkawari, Sanji Chatt and various points at the Bhawan obtain a formal receipt. Note that donations to the Shrine are exempt from Income Tax under the Income Tax Act. Luggage and belongings should not be deposited with unauthorised persons or left unguarded at the bathing ghats. To maintain the sanctity of the place, please refrain fromn gambling, playing cards, smoking or chewing betel (Paan) at the Bhawan or en route. Do not stick posters or disfigure signboards, or litter anwhere. Containers have been provided for throwing rubbish and other waste. Please show all possible consideration to fellow pilgrims. Avoid playing transistors/tape recorders, or creating hindrance in movement along passage ways.


Amenities Offered
The whole route is swept and cleaned several times every day. Shelters and cafeterias are set up throughout the route. Pure vegetarian food is available at these outlets. Price charts are exhibited prominently. Drinking water has been made available all along the route, with water coolers and storage facilities. Public utilities with automatic flushing systems are located all along the track and at the Bhawan. Qualified doctors are available round the clock at the Primary Health Centre, Katra, Adhkawari and Bhawan. The Evening Clinic at Katra Bus Stand is open from 2 pm to 8 pm.

General Information

Yatri Niwas is managed by the Shrine Board. Various private hotels are also available, the room rent ranging from Rs.300/- per day to Rs.3000/- per day.

At Katra, there are several options: Yatri Niwas managed by the Shrine Board, rest houses maintained by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department, other hotels. Sarais, managed by the Shrine Board offer free accommodation at Adhkawari, Sanji Chatt and Darbar. Dharamshalas, run by various organisations offer inexpensive accommodation to pilgrims.


How to Get There
Daily flights are available from Delhi and Srinagar to Jammu. These flights (Indian Airlines) connect Chandigarh and Amritsar on specific days of the week. Jet Airways also flies to Jammu from Delhi via Srinagar.

By rail, Jammu is directly connected with most major cities in the country.

Jammu is the terminus of a large number of Inter State Bus Services. Buses leave for Katra every 10 minutes from the main bus stand at Jammu between 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. JKSRTC runs buses and luxury coaches from the Jammu railway station to Katra. Private taxis are also available for hire between Jammu and Katra, from Jammu Airport, Jammu Railway Station and the

Tourist Reception Centre at Jammu.
Pilgrimage Centres Around Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine
Shri Raghunath Temple - Jammu
Darshani Darwaza
Banganga Temple & Bridge
Duja Darshan - Devamayi
Charan Paduka Temple
Shali Gram
Adi Kumari
Agar Baba Jitoo
Hathi-Matha Ascent
Sanji Chatt
Shri Raghu-Nath Temple - Katra
Bhumika Temple
New Cave.


Best Season
The shrine is visited throughout the year, but owing to snowfall in winter, it can get difficult. The heaviest rush is during the Navratra periods in March-April and September-October.

Light woollens required at night during the summer months. Heavy woollens required during the remaining part of the year.

Tourist Offices

Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Office 25, North Wing, World Trade Centre, Cuffe Parade, Colaba, Mumbai-400005, India. Tel : +91-22-2189040/2186172

Jammu and Kashmir Tourist Office, Vir Marg, Jammu-180001, India Tel: +91-0191-544527/548172

For any suggestions/complaints, you can write to :
The Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, Katra, J&K, India

Compiled by Puneet Sachdeva

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.