2.6 Lakh devotees in first 10 days of char dham yatra
An estimated 2.61 lakh pilgrims are believed to have visited the char dham shrines in the almost 10 days since the yatra began this year. The shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath have registered the highest footfalls with almost 52,000 and over one lakh pilgrims respectively arriving here till now. Gangotri and Yamunotri have also registered significantly high numbers at over 64,000 and 43,000 pilgrims respectively. If this trend continues, say tourism officials, the yatra season this year may well break all records of pilgrim arrivals.
According to data provided by the tourism department, the last three days, in particular, has seen the graph of tourist arrivals shooting up considerably. With summer vacations beginning in schools across the country, more and more families are expected to plan their trip to the char dhams, said an official.
On Tuesday, 12,069 pilgrims reached Badrinath while 7,156 visited Kedarnath; 6,606 came to Gangotri and 3,814 to Yamunotri. On Wednesday, barring Kedarnath, footfall was high in the other char dhams. Almost 21,000 pilgrims were recorded at Badrinath, while the numbers were 6,303 in Kedarnath, 7,145 in Gangotri and 4,793 in Yamunotri. On Thursday, Kedarnath, too, caught up with 7,620 pilgrims, Badrinath saw 21,964 yatris, while Gangotri and Yamunotri had 7,174 and 3,990 pilgrims respectively.
According to sources, the surge in the numbers may be due to increasingly hot and sultry weather in the rest of the country which may be prompting people to visit these religious spots situated high in the Himalayas.
Another reason, says Ganesh Gondiyal, president of Badri-Kedar Temple Committee is that the efforts to popularise the yatra during the past few years, seem to have also borne fruit. “The state government offered high subsidy to the pilgrims in air fare, food and accommodation in the past few years. These efforts have now borne fruit, as the pilgrims are turning in huge numbers for the char dham yatra now. If the weather favours us for one and a half months more, then we can create a record of sorts for maximum footfalls at the char dhams this year.”