Dehra Dun : It took a tragedy of the magnitude of the one that hit the Kedarnath Vally earlier in June this year, for the Uttarakhand government to realize the need of regulating the char dham yatra. It has now been decided that for the pilgrimage to the devastation hit Kedarnath shrine starting Saturday, only 200 pilgrims will be allowed every day and that too after undergoing medical examination.
The shrine where token prayers were held earlier last month, remained out of bounds for pilgrims and only a selected few, other than the staff at the temple premises and the government posted there for cleaning up the debris, were given VVUIP passes to visit the shrine.
It had earlier been decided to open the shrine to a limited number of pilgrims every day from Oct 1, but as the meteorological department has predicted widespread rains in Uttarakhand, the state government in its wisdom decided to postpone allowing pilgrims to visit the temple to Oct 5, albeit in limited numbers and after undergoing a medical test.
However, the pilgrimage to the shrine is going to be arduous than what it was earlier. Previously the pilgrims had to trek from Gaurikund to the temple, a distance of 14 kms and back, but now they will have to trek from Sonprayag, which makes it 24 kms one way. The passes will also be given to the pilgrims allowed on a particular day at Sonprayag itself.
Meanwhile informed sources said that with most of the guest houses, hotels and dharamshalas that were in Kedarnath having been reduced to rubble in the June holocaust there is, as of now, only arrangement for about 100 people to stay at the completely destroyed township.
They, however, said that the arrangements for the pilgrimage was being worked out in such a manner that only 100 pilgrims would have to stay at the shrine while the others could remain at the arrangements that have been made on the 24 kms trek from Sonprayag, primarily at Bhimbali and Lainchili.
Sources said that the state government was also contemplating allowing pilgrims by helicopters to the Kedarnath shrine. “There will be four services, two from Dehra Dun and two from Guptkashi for the shrine, but the pilgrims going by choppers will have to return the same day and will not be allowed to stay for the night”, they added.
They said that taking into consideration the fact that the distance from Sonprayag to Kedarnath would be 24 kms now and the height involved at which the pilgrims will have to trek, the state government has also decided to make medical facilities available on route and also at Kedarnath.