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Char Dham Yatra begins as court lifts ban; Govt issues SOP for covid

The Char Dham Yatra began in Uttarakhand on Saturday after a long closure due to covid restrictions and a ban imposed by the High Court. The pilgrims will have to register online and follow the covid prevention guidelines. A two-dose vaccination certificate or a negative covid test report is a must. There will also be restriction on the number of yatris allowed a day: 400 for Yamunotri, 600 for Gangotri, 800 for Kedarnath and 1,000 for Badrinath.

DEHRA DUN, Sept 18: The Char Dham Yatra began in Uttarakhand on Saturday after a prolonged suspension due to covid. The State Government on Friday issued a detailed SOP for the pilgrims to strictly adhere to the Central covid guidelines after the High Court lifted the ban on the Yatra on Thursday, which was imposed on June 28.

Chief Executive officer of the Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Ravi Nath Raman said the pilgrims coming from outside the State will have to register themselves on the website of the board: https://badrinath-kedarnath.gov.in/ Yatris need to carry an e-pass. Originals of documents uploaded for registration must be carried alongwith. There can be upto 6 yatri entries in one e-pass.

The yatris have to bring a negative covid test report or a certificate of two-dose vaccination against covid. Pilgrims from Kerala, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, which are hotspots, will have to produce both the negative covid test report as well as double-dose vaccination certificate.

The Board has set a limit on the number of pilgrims who can visit the shrines a day. It is 400 for Yamunotri, 600 for Gangotri, 800 for Kedarnath and 1,000 for Badrinath. The Sikh pilgrimage to Hemkund Sahib also started.

Only three pilgrims will be allowed inside a sanctum sanctorum at a time. Nobody will not be allowed to take dip in the holy kund. Covid distancing rule and mask wearing must be followed.

The District Magistrates have been told to make the necessary arrangements for the yatra along the route like road safety, sanitation, drinking water and toilet facilities, crowd management, transport management, covid testing, availability of enough doctors, ambulances on the routes, etc. Yamunotri and Gangotri shrines are located in Uttarkashi district, Kedarnath shrine is located in Rudraprayag district and the Badrinath shrine is in Chamoli district.

Lakhs of pilgrims visit the shrines every year. The pilgrimage begins from Yamunotri in the west, proceeding to Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath in the east although it is harduous to take up a trip to all the four in one go. Last year also the pilgrimage was restricted due to covid.

Temple opening and shrine details

As per the temple schedules for 2021 the shrines opened for annual pujas on: Gangotri Dham: 14th May (Source of River Yamuna - 3293 metres); Yamunotri Dham: 14th May (Source of River Ganga - 3415 metres); Kedarnath Dham: 17th May (Dedicated to Lord Shiva - 3553 metres); Badrinath Dham: 18th May (Dedicated to Lord Vishnu - 3300 metres). The public was not allowed because of covid and the High Court stay.

About Char Dham

Char Dham means four Dhams i.e. four religious places. Char Dham in Uttarakhand is a collective term used for the religous circuit covering the holy Hindu pilgrimage centres of Badarinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. This is considered as most sacred religious places to be visited by Hindus, to get rid of their sins and pave the path to ultimate goal of human life - the Moksha, ie redemption from the cycle of birth & death in this world. Every Hindu is expected to perform the Yatra at least once in their life time. There is no restriction on visiting the temples for foreigners, women etc., nor is there any strict dress code, even though pilgrims are advised to dress clean. Piligrims performing the Char Dham yatra are also requested not to use polyrhene bags, to preserve the sanctity of the temples and conserve the environment.

All four temple shrines are located in Garhwal Himalayas range of Uttarakhand. Haridwar is the traditional point to start the Char Dham Yatra. Haridwar is in the plains and easily accessible by road and train from other States, including New Delhi. It is also accessible by road from Dehradun, which has an airport. So, pilgrims can fly to Dehradun from Delhi and other locations in India and then proceed to Haridwar by road from anywhere.

Haridwar is famous for Ganga Aarthi which takes place in the evening every day and through out the year.

HOW TO REACH

From Haridwar, the next stop in Char Dham yatra ie Rishikesh, which is also in the plains. Ganga Aarthi takes place in Rishikesh also in the evening daily.

From Rishikesh, piligrims can travel to any or all of the four Char Dhams.

Yamunotri Dham: From Rishikesh, Piligrims have to first reach Janaki Chatti by road. From Janaki Chatti, piligrims can reach Yamunotri by: (1) Pony or (2) Trekking

Gangotri Dham: From Rishikesh, piligrims can reach Gangotri by road. However, to reach Gaumukh (Source of River Ganges), piligrims have to travel by trekking.

Badrinath Dham: From Rishikesh, piligrims can reach Badrinath by road.

Kedarnath Dham: From Rishikesh, piligrims have to first reach Sitapur by road. From Sitapur, they can travel to Kedarnath by: (1) Helicopter or (2) Pony or (3) Trekking

Char Dham Enquiries:-

Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board Head Office: Dehradun, Saket, Lane No-7, Canal Road, Uttarakhand

Pilgrim's Support Timings Monday to Saturday 10 am to 6 pm

ENQUIRY: Phones: Office related Enquiry - 0135-2741600 General Enquiry & Online Prasad Services - +91-7302257116 Pilgrims Help Line for Shri Kedarnath Temple - +91-8534001008 Pilgrims Help Line for Shri Badarinath Temple - +91-8979001008 Online Services/International Pilgrims Help Line +91-7302257116 Media Related Quarry - +91-7302257115 Publicity Office Rishikesh - 0135-2430261 Shri Narsing Temple Joshimath - +91-1389-222083

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