No Char Dham Yatra for Pilgrims from Outside Uttarakhand Till June 30
Nestled among the serene heights of the Himalaya are four pilgrim-destinations, namely Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath that are collectively known as the Char Dham. These places draw a number of pilgrims every year and are considered as one of the most important hubs of religious travel.
Most of the pilgrims start their Char Dham Yatra or journey from the west and end towards the east, starting from Yamunotri and then proceeding to Gangotri, Kedarnath and finally Badrinath. The Char Dham Yatra is considered to be one of the most arduous journeys, and thus before embarking on this journey one has to be mentally and physically prepared to experience challenges on the Himalayan roads.
Due to the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the Government of India earlier in March had restricted and shut down all places of religious worships including the Char Dhams. However, now when the government has decided to ease the lockdown the decision to open these places of worship was handed over to the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board.
Considering the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Uttarakhand the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board after a meeting with the DMs of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarakashi along with the all other stakeholders have decided to restrict the entry of pilgrims from other states till June 30. However, local people might be allowed to visit these shrines. The local priests have also expressed their concerns over the spread of the disease due to inflow of a large number of tourists. They believe that this can be a threat to their health and to the health of the local people.
Number of Pilgrims Fixed by the Board
The board has fixed the number of pilgrims visiting these places on a daily basis. The people visiting these places of religious worships will have to seek permissions from the local authority and district management. Even those who have their hotels, guest house or business at these Char Dhams will have to seek permissions from the local authority visit their properties for maintenance. the local people will be able to visit these dhams from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM only.
Name of Dham- Maximum Number of Pilgrims Allowed
- Badrinath- 1200
- Kedarnath- 800
- Gangotri- 600
- Yamunotri- 400
Not only this, the board has also made it clear that only 120 and 80 people would be allowed to visit Badrinath and Kedarnath respectively, every hour. The board has also said that proper care of social distancing will have to be taken care of by the pilgrims, and they will have to stand at a distance of two metres in the queue while waiting for their turn.
The Char Dham Yatra that had seen 32 lakh pilgrims last year, is now seeing one-third bookings being cancelled. The COVID-19 crisis has cast a shadow on the popular religious fair as the devotees are now afraid to visit such crowded places. The board has urged the yatris not to cancel their bookings, and has announced that they would be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage anytime in the next two years.