Published on : Saturday, May 14, 2022
Uttarakhand’s famous pilgrimage spot of the Char Dham opened up in the first week of this month. From that time, it has been attracting extraordinary numbers of devotees. Kedarnath, one of the Char Dhams, also opened up on May 6 after remaining closedduring the winters. All four of the prominent religious sites are located in ecologically sensitize zones in Uttarakhand. Experts have cautioned against huge gatherings in these places.
According to locals,Kedargram, a hamlet, can accommodate around 10,000 people in a day; however, in spite of its restricted capacity, as many as 20,000 people turned up at Gaurikund, which is one of the essential pit stops on the way to Kedarnath. Hence, authorities had no other option but to stop devotees at Gaurikund, and a number of visitors were found to be crowding for hotels and other night stays.
There were reports that many visitors had to sleep in the open with no hotels available, and people even braved the cold, with the minimum temperature as low as 2 degrees Celsius at night. Devotees had to paya high amount of money so that they could find a shelter to stay.
The disturbing situation reminds one of the 2013 devastation, when flashfloods and landslides brought in disaster around Kedarnath. The official death toll was more than 6000 people, with massive rescue operations carried on to save 300,000 pilgrims stuck in the region. The flashfloods of Kedarnathare among the worst natural disasters that Indiawitnessed after the 2004 tsunami.