Kedarnath is probably the most famous of all the sacred 4 Dham. According to Hinduism, a trip to Kedarnath can purify the soul and wash away all sins. However, the disaster which struck 3 years back in Kedarnath still leaves an imprint of fear in the minds of the pilgrims. The Government of Uttarakhand have valiantly fought to reassure tourists and pilgrims about the safety of the Chardham route by investing heavily in technological backups and straitening the protocol for disaster management. The new route in Kedarnath is ready and fortified with shelters. Food dispersal kiosks, medical care facilities and other refurbishments.
The original holy Char Dham are Badrinath in North India, Rameshwaram in South along with Puri in the East and Dwarka in the west. A visit to these places sanctified the soul and promised the attainment of Moksha. However due to the humongous distance between these four places many pilgrims were unable to fulfill their wishes of a complete Char Dham tour. This is why the Chota Char Dhams i.e. Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri gained so much importance that more than 2 million pilgrims started frequenting this circuit annually. When the floods swept Uttarakhand in 2013, the Kedarnath route was badly damaged with substantial loss of life and limb. In 2014 severe rainfall again ravaged the route but the Government of Uttarakhand immediately took serious steps to combat the problem. Since 2015 the Chardham Yatra has again begun with fresh facilities, added safety measures and disaster management strategies.
The Damage of the Past
Entire blocks of villages were swept away in the fury of the 2013 floods. The temple structure of Kedarnath was also damaged and the route was heavily harmed. Entire sections of road as well as accessory paths were swept away and many places lost their accessibility. Pictures captured by Satellite cameras showed that Kedarnath and its surrounding area were affected very badly. In fact, the town adjacent to Kedarnath was almost completely destroyed. The C.M of Uttarakhand assessed the damage and announced the closure of the temple for renovation and reconstruction for which a whopping 195 crores was allocated. The Kedarnath idol was transported to Ukhimath. The Roads leading to Kedarnath were so damaged at that point of time that people had to get down at Sonprayag and then walk for more than 20 km to reach the Kedarnath temple. The original road in question took tourists and pilgrims to Kedarnath from Gaurikund which is a distance of 14 km. this road was once lined on both sides with supply stores, shelter points and convenience dispensing zones. The shops and stores were completely destroyed and the road is now under repair.
Newly Developed Kedarnath Route
The new route to Kedarnath starts off from the point of Sitapur and then covers a distance of 21 km. if one plan to trek all the way then it will take a whole day so a helicopter rides or riding on a pony is a better option. For the aged and the weak it is definitely recommended to avail either of the two above mentioned options. In any case any person planning to visit Kedarnath has to compulsorily register with the local authorities and get a health check-up done post which the journey can be allowed only if fitness certificate is obtained. This only proves that the road is arduous and at a high altitude. Due to the concerted efforts of the Government and local authorities the road from Kedarnath to Gaurikund has been worked on fast and is now ready to be used.
There are several tour operators who are offering pony ride or helicopter road services for the trip to Kedarnath. Pilgrims can easily contact any of these operators to avail a comfortable journey. The road from Sitapur is now complete and is fortified with convenience stalls, food stores and other general supply facilities.