As the weather in the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand starts getting warmer, the implausible natural beauty of the region gets prepared to welcome the tourists from across the globe. A tradition that has been going on for decades, the most awaited Chardham and Hemkund Sahib Yatra is once again knocking at the door. However, the memory of the natural disaster, which wreaked havoc in the state last year (2013) is still fresh in the minds of the people.
Yet we live, and we dream. Bidding good bye to the gloomy past, this year the most awaited Hemkund and Chardham Yatra is going to start from May, 2014. Equipped with strong safety and security measures the Yamunotri and Gangotri gates will be opened on 2nd of May while Kedarnath and Badrinath will be opened on 4th and 5th May respectively. Later on 25th of May, Hemkund Sahib will be opened for pilgrims. Following the devastating natural disaster on June, 2013 the state government has taken adequate precautions to prevent any untoward incidents.
A joint task force of Nehru Mountaineering Institute and Uttarakhand Police is working at wartime pace to give finishing touch to all construction works going on, on the main pilgrimage route. To ensure the full safety of every pilgrim, scientific measures have been adopted, one of which includes biometrics registration for all pilgrims visiting Chardham Yatra. Let’s have a look at the steps taken for smooth Chardham Yatra.
Preparations for upcoming Hemkund and Chardham Yatra
To deal with any emergency situation in accident prone areas, the State Disaster Response Force and para-military personnel will be deployed.
In case of any emergency, there will be arrangements for rescuing the sufferers. Provisions have also been made to airlift passengers if the need be.
More than 5 Base Camps, 48 Wayside Amenities, 7 Ghats, and 12 Night Shelters are created by the state government for the Chardham Yatra.
For ensuring the complete safety and security of pilgrims along the route, state police, 108 emergency services, and special task force will function day and night.
On the newly constructed route of Bhimbali and Kedarnath a special team of police force and National Institute of Mountaineering will toil on a regular basis.
Mobile hospitals and medical camps are established to offer complete health care facilities for pilgrims and tourists of Chardham tour.
A mobile medical team will be stationed at a distance of 10-15 km across the main route.
Health camps will be set up in Sonprayag, Guptakashi, and Gaurikund.
After every 15 km of the pedestrian route PCO booths have been set up for the benefit of the travellers.
All wireless networks are activated to enhance easy communication and a police station has been set up in Kedar Valley.
For the registration of pilgrims mobile counters are set up at 13 places including Rishikesh, Haridwar, Jankichatti, Guptkashi and Gangotri.
In case of Hemkund Sahib, the main Gurdwara was not damaged but Gurudwara Gobind Ghat, which falls on the way to Hemkund Sahib, was severely damaged. Government is also taking special care to restore the damaged part.
Special committees are set up to take care of the entire Chardham tour. Though there will not be any restriction regarding the number of devotees going to the shrines, but in case of emergency, the officials can restrict the Yatra at any moment.
Like previous years, helicopter service will be available from Guptkashi to Kedarnath.
The state corporation is trying its level best to serve food-loving travellers of Maharashtra with special Maharashtrian cuisines. Cooks will be hired from Maharshtra to prepare appetizing dishes.
Safety measures for Chardham and Hemund Sahib Yatra in Uttarakhand
To keep track of every devotee heading towards Chardham Yatra, a total of 25 points have been identified in the entire Garhwal Region of the Himalayas. For the convenience of the pilgrims, biometric cards would be issued to pilgrims at these points.
Biometric registration of each visitor will be mandatory and they have to swipe their card en route which will help the control room to track their location with a GPS-based monitoring system.
A dedicated control room will be opened in the state capital to monitor the Char Dham yatra and it will also deal with the issues of mishaps, lost and found information. Along with the pilgrims, their relatives will also get all the updates related to the yatra from the control room.
For visiting Kedarnath, every day 1000 devotees will be allowed to embark on the trip.
Pilgrims can track weather updates on their cell phones. With the help of the Meteorological Department of India and the Telecom Department, weather updates will be sent to the registered mobiles so that they can plan their yatra. It will help them to decide whether they should leave for the next destination or not.
The loss of June, 2013 is irreversible, but we can only hope that the future would be better. The untiring effort of the state government and disaster management teams has made the Yatra route safe as before which will allow the pilgrims and travelers to embark for Chardham and Hemkund Sahib without having to bother about their safety. Moreover, advance booking for this famous pilgrimage tour is already at its peak and pilgrims will like to embark via the newly constructed route of Bhimbali and Kedarnath.