It will be some time before pilgrims can go to Kedarnath

Dehradun : Though the resumption of prayers at the Kedarnath shrine, 86 days after the region was devastated by a Himalayan tsunami, may have by and large cheered the Shiv bhakts throughout the world, not in India alone, but a sense of disillusionment remains, because of the fact that the area still remains cut off to them.

Even as chief minister Vijay Bahuguna has announced that a meeting would be held on Sept 30 to decide by when the shrine will be opened to the devotees and pilgrims, informed sources said that it could well be during the next season that begins sometimes in May that they will be able to offer dto offer their obeisance.

Uttarakhand CM Bhauguna at Shrine 22 July, 2013
Uttarakhand CM Bhauguna at Shrine 22 July, 2013

While the ‘rawal’ (head priest of the Kedarnath shrine) said that prayers will now be held every day till the temple closes down for the winters on Nov 4, but there is little hope that a pedestrian track or route will be ready by then for the devotees to have ‘darshan’ at the shrine. However, chopper flights will be available for those who can afford it and ofcourse the VVIPs.

If informed sources are to be beliebed, the concerned authorities, including the army, have yet to chalk out an alternate pedestrian route to Kedarnath. The earlier route from Gauri Kund via Ram Bara has been literally washed away and the state government is contemplating establishing a new route that is less hazardous, though a little longer.

Right now main consideration is being given to the route beginning from Sonprayag, which is generally felt to be less hazardous and involves a lesser elevation, which means easier trek for the pilgrims and devotees. However, this route will be about 25 kms long, compared to the 14 kms of the earlier Gauri Kund-Ram Bara-Kedarnath route that was in vogue for decades, till it was washed away by June 16-17 floods.

Sources said that as of now even the motor road to Sonprayag is the least reliable though it is open to vehicles. The road closes because of land slides and landslips at the slightest rains and bull dozers have to clear it before vehicles can proceed again. There are a number of such sensitive zones, which are prone to landslides and landslips and need to be treated, they claimed.

They said that the pilgrims and devotees would only be able to visit Kedarnath shrine after the Sonprayag- Kedarnath route is established and set by the armed forces and other para-military forces and this could take wuite some time, as very little work would be possible at the heights on the route during the winters.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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