Char Dham Yatra to Begin in Uttarakhand

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Dehradun:  Amid frequent rains and snowfall in Uttarakhand, the annual Char Dham Yatra will begin yesterday, with the opening of the gates of Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines on the auspicious occasion of “Akshaya Tritiya”.

To attract more people to the annual pilgrimage this year after the devastating deluge in 2013, the state government said that it has taken all measures to ensure smooth passage of the yatra.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat and senior officials have toured Kedarnath, Badrinath and other areas to take stock of the preparations for the pilgrimage.

The Gangotri gates have opened at 12.30 pm yesterday, said Suresh Samewal, secretary of Gangotri Temple Trust. The gates of Yamunotri in Uttarkashi district will be opened at 11.30 am today.

The gates of the other two shrines– Kedarnath and Badrinath– will be opened at 8.30 am on April 24 and 5.15 am on April 26 respectively.

With all the four shrines located above 10,000 feet, the temple doors remain closed in October-November owing to low temperatures and heavy snowfall, and are reopened in March- April.

Following the 2013 calamity, the state had witnessed a steep fall in the number of tourists with 2.09 crore visitors as opposed to 2.84 crore tourists in 2012, Uttarakhand tourism minister Dinesh Dhanai said.

The number increased to 2.26 crore visitors in 2014, he said.

The state government has taken various steps and also launched a campaign to boost confidence of tourists, officials said.

After touring the Char Dham by road and taking stock of the preparations, a team led by state Tourism Secretary Umakant Pawar claimed that almost 95 per cent of the preparations have been done.

Also, the condition of roads is far better that what it was last year, they added.

Mr Pawar said that in view of intermittent rains, JCB machines have been sent to landslide-prone areas so that roads could be re-opened quickly following any such incidents.

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