Uttarakhand is pushing itself as a year-round destination.
The state government will commence the annual Chardham and Hemkund Sahib Yatra from May 2014. The government of Uttarakhand issued a few directives making government departments responsible for a safe journey for visitors.
The Yatra will begin on May 2, 2014 with the opening of Yamnotri and Gangotri gates. This will be followed by the opening of gates of Kedarnath on 4 May, Badrinath on 5 May, and Hemkund Sahib on 25 May, 2014.
The growth of tourism sector in the state has been one of the fastest in the country. “We have initiated major tourist friendly packages that offer the diversity and ethereal beauty on a platter best suitable to them. The state government is committed to put in place all the safety measures for ensuring a safe, secure and comfortable journey for visitors coming for Chardham and Hemkund Sahib Yatras,” said Dr. Umakant Panwar, Secretary at government of Uttarakhand.
To facilitate the pilgrims and tourists, a special control room has been set up at the Uttarakhand Tourism headquarter in Dehradun.
The following are the preparations for the upcoming Chardham Yatra:
• The state government has created more than five Base Camps, 48 Wayside Amenities, Seven Ghats, Twelve Night Shelters for the Chardham Yatra.
• All district magistrates in Garhwal besides the departments of health sanitation, water, electricity among others have been assigned responsibilities for maintaining efficient and smooth Chardham Yatra operations.
• Instructions have been issued to ensure that work on roads and infrastructure will be completed by April 30, 2014. A special task force comprising of police and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering at Uttarkashi, has been set up for the Kedarnath route from Bhimbali. This shall function under the district magistrate of Rudraprayag.
• Mobile towers and PCO booths been set up every 15kms of the route, mobile hospitals and medical camps have been established for the benefit of the pilgrims.
• All wireless networks have been made operational and also a new police post at Kedar Valley shall become operational in April 2014.
• Additionally, the services of private helicopter operators will be engaged to take passengers to Kedarnath.
As part of the safety and keeping track all pilgrims visiting Chardham Yatra, the state government is introducing biometrics registration mandatory. “We want to ensure safety of pilgrims by making biometrics registration for all pilgrims visiting Chardham Yatra. Biometric registration counters will be setup at entry points of state and also in yatra routes,” Dr. Panwar added.
Promoting Winter Chardham
After the devastation in the region last year, the state government has decided to empower the locals financially with a new concept of ‘Winter Chardham’.
During winter, for six months, the deities from all four dhams – Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath shifted and worshiped respectively to shrines of Kharsali, Mukhva, Ukhimath and Pandukeshwar (Joshimath).
The key motive for the proposal is to attract more devotees and to open up the opportunity 365-days in this sector. The tourism in the sector will eventually provide more employment to the locals of the respective regions. The pilgrims can also enjoy winter sports activities, exciting views of Snow Clad peaks, local cultural programmes such as fairs, festivals, Kaurav puja and Pandav dance among others which would certainly help in introducing the local culture more closely.