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61% increase in Char Dham pilgrims in 1st 3 days of yatra | India News – Times of India

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DEHRADUN: Since the Char Dham yatra began on May 10, around 1.5 lakh pilgrims have visited the four Himalayan shrine towns of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. This is a massive increase — around 61% — from last year when 95,000 pilgrims arrived at the shrine towns in the first three days.Particularly noteworthy is the Kedarnath shrine, which witnessed a 67% increase in footfall since its portals opened on May 10.Last year, 44,892 pilgrims visited the Himalayan shrine in the first three days, which increased to 75,139 this time.Similarly, the number of pilgrims has increased by 61% in Gangotri and 59% in Yamunotri. In Badrinath, 15,432 devotees arrived in the first two days of the yatra last year. This year, 22,690 pilgrims had visited the shrine on the first day of its opening on May 12.The influx of so many people in the ecologically fragile hills, which have limited carrying capacity, is already showing, as pilgrims are spending hours waiting in traffic jams as well as long queues for entry into temples (On the day of opening of Badrinath shrine, the line for darshan stretched almost till Mana village, situated almost 4 km away).Experts warn that if this trend persists, over 80 lakh pilgrims could arrive for the Char Dham yatra this year, an onslaught for which the hills are not fully prepared. “Is our infrastructure ready to handle such a large influx of pilgrims? Policymakers should take into account the massive surge in numbers when making further arrangements for the Char Dham yatra, else we will be headed for potential disaster,” said Anoop Nautiyal, Doon-based social activist and founder of Social Development for Communities (SDC) Foundation.Videos showing huge crowds of devotees navigating the perilous mountainous path to the Yamunotri shrine a couple of days ago, had generated lots of reactions online, mostly adverse. Following which, the state police was forced to make an appeal to the pilgrims on Sunday to avoid coming to the shrine for ‘at least a day.’According to Nautiyal, the negative memories that pilgrims would carry back with them would affect Uttarakhand’s image as a tourist destination. “Policymakers should realise that if they want to give a better experience to pilgrims and ensure that they leave with a good image of Uttarakhand, then they need to look at data, compare it with previous years, factor in worst case scenarios and thereafter do their preparations accordingly so that the yatra proceeds smoothly,” he said.(Inputs from Kautilya Singh in Badrinath)


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