This year the hill state is going to witness a remarkable surge in the number of Gujarati pilgrims for Char Dham Yatra. After the 2013 catastrophy, the state has revived the place with ,complete restoration work making the route way more safer for the onset of Char Dham Yatra on April 21 this year. After the deluge barely 1000 pilgrims from Gujarat visited Uttarakhand so the hike in Gujarati pilgrims this year is a good sign for the state.
However, over the last two days, the tourism department of Uttarakhand took around 15 tour operators of Gujarat on an inspection trip to Char Dham to make them aware of reconstruction and new facilities.
According to the tour operators, around 10,000 booking have already been made which is likely to begin from third week of April. Before the 2013 deluge, on an average 80,000 pilgrims used to visit the state for Char Dham Yatra.
Bhaskar Rao Babulkar of Radheshyam Travels said they boarded a helicopter from Rishikesh and reached Kedarnath in 45 minutes on the visit he had made to Uttarakhand with other tour operators recently.
“Indian Army officials and those of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) under which the reconstruction work is being done, briefed us about the safety measures taken. Several arrangements have been made for the ease of pilgrims including pucca road, accommodation for at least 500 people near the shrine along with the government canteen for food. Garhwal Mandal has also set up a food stall, ” said Babulkar.
After the ravaging 2013 tragedy, the Uttarakhand Government has made the registration of pilgrims compulsory.
Dr. Umakant Panwar, secretary, department of tourism, Uttarakhand said “Pilgrims can register themselves either via online or offline mode with our office after arriving in Haridwar. In the process they will be required to give their phone number and car numbers along with their photos and the contact numbers of their relatives.
Pawar further said that this year they expect 8-10 lakh pilgrims after the temples open later this month. “Last year, only 2 lakh pilgrims had come. Apart from North India, a major chunk of pilgrims are from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh,” said Pawar. Earlier, before 2013, 20 lakh people on an average used to visit the hilly state for pilgrimage every year.
Manish Sharma of Akshar Travels, who also visited Uttarkhand from Gujarat, said, “The snow is still there but the weather is good. We expect the bookings to pick up from Gujarat by May end.”
News Src : Times of India, Ahmedabad
img src : Uttarakhand.org.in