Char Dham yatra: Devotees throng Himalayan shrine of lord Shiva at Kedarnath

Uttarakhand’s Chardham yatra which started on Akshay Tritiya, May 3 is going on in full swing. On the fifth day of the opening of the doors of Kedarnath Dham, more than 80,000 pilgrims visited the Shiva shrine and took the darshan of Lord Kedarnath. SP, Rudraprayag, Ayush Aggarwal, informed ANI that on the journey to Kedarnath Dham there is a queue of passengers for darshan but so far everything is going fine.

The daily limit imposed on the number of people visiting each of the shrines — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri — in Uttarakhand has been increased by 1,000 for the first 45 days of the yatra season by modifying an earlier government order at present, it is 13,000 per day at Kedarnath.

Rudraprayag Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. BK Shukla informed the Indian Express around 70,000 tourists have already arrived in Kedarnath up to last week.

The decision was taken under the direction of Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Pushkar Singh Dhami considering an upsurge in the number of pilgrims this year with Covid-induced restrictions no longer in force. 

Moreover, 6 pilgrims lost their lives on the way to Kedarnath due to deteriorating health conditions, the police official informed. According to the state health department data, 10 pilgrims died while on their way to Yamunotri, 6 to Kedarnath, 3 to Gangotri, and 1 to Badrinath, during the yatra that started in May 3.

A majority of those who died were above 60 years of age and suffered from cardiac-related issues on climbing shrines by foot situated at altitudes ranging between 10,000 ft and 12,000 ft.

Dr. KS Chauhan, CMO of Uttarkashi district has started intense screening of pilgrims for blood pressure, oxygen level, sugar level, and medical history. But even with suggesting that they should not go with medical conditions, they hardly listen he said.

Government officials in the state said that due to a high number of tourists coming, a decision has been made to stop those coming without prior registration.

In 2019, 2018, and 2017, 38 lakh, 112 lakh, and 102 lakh pilgrims took the Char Dham yatra.