Uttarakhand Government Appoints Team to Improve Roads on the Chardham Yatra Route

Home » Uttarakhand Government Appoints Team to Improve Roads on the Chardham Yatra Route

kedarnath conditionDevout Hindus wait each year for the announcement of the start of the official yatra season. For 2015 the yatra, especially Kedarnath dham yatra, will be open from 24th April onwards while Badrinath yatra will be open from 26th April. This year the Government and the Chief Minister Shri Harish Rawat, are taking special pains as regards the Chardham Yatra. The minister is also reported to have sought the help of central agencies such as BRO and NHAI to ensure connectivity on the route. Only recently the government announced free chardham yatra for couples aged over 65 years of age and followed it up with an announcement to set up bio-digester toilets along the route. Now there is news that the Government has put together a special team of 40 officials tasked with inspecting and reviewing the conditions of the roads on the char dham route. The roads and also some temples were damaged in the wake of the flash floods of 2013 and repair work has been going on since then. The appointment of the team is expected to accelerate work and have everything in readiness by the time this season starts. It will be recalled that the flash floods not only damaged roads and property but also resulted in the death of thousands of people. As a result the number of yatris registered a sharp fall. Up to 2012 the pilgrims numbered around 10,00000 but thereafter, the numbers fell. As if that was not bad enough the rains in 2014 also caused damage and made it virtually impossible to travel to the four holy destinations.

The char dham yatra is a great revenue earner for the state government and their concern about providing facilities is understandable. A state tourism department official is reported to have said that all efforts are being made to induce pilgrims to undertake the yatra this year. Better roads and facilities as well as some facelifts to the Kedarnath temple that was damaged by the flood are all part of the ongoing efforts to bring up the numbers to the pre-flood levels. Hopefully, with the roads in readiness and facilities in place pilgrims who were waiting since more than a year can now undertake the trip on their own, through the state local tourism tours or through independent tour operators offering char dham yatras.

It takes about a fortnight or at the minimum about ten days to complete the circuit should a pilgrim start from Haridwar or Rishikesh. The first leg takes him to Barkot from where he has to travel to Jankichatti and walk the rest of the way to Yamunotri. Pilgrims return to Barkot and then go on to Uttarkashi and then onwards to Harsil by road from where they go on to Gangotri. Here again pilgrims must return to Uttarkashi for the third leg journey to Kedarnath by way of Guptkashi and a trek of 14 kilometers. Then they return to Guptkashi and move on to Badrinath, the final leg of the char dham tour. It is not only the final laps that were damaged in the floods but also roads to Uttarkashi, Joshimatrh, Kirtinagar and Barkot. With restoration work expected to be completed by the time the yatra starts it will encourage more vehicular movement and thus motivate more people to undertake the pilgrimage of their lifetime. On an encouraging note public transport operators have decided not to increase fares this year. The Rishikesh-Gangotri route is now open for light vehicular traffic. Updates on the yatra and progress on the routes will be available through whatsapp. At the same time the government will also put up stalls alone the route to help local textile craftsmen promote trade. The news that Mr Nitin Gadkari, Ministry of Union Road Transport and Highways has sanctioned funds of Rs. 1300 crores and will establish a new 890 Km national highway route to connect the four dhams should be welcomed by pilgrims.

What one hopes the government will do is put up ropeways, especially on the last leg of each of the four yatras to help pilgrims avoid having to walk or undertake the journey on ponies. It will also be a great time saver. However, it may take years for the government to get around to this idea. Meanwhile, the Kedarnath shrine is being repaired and will be in readiness for the 2015 start.

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