Surge in Char Dham Pilgrims: 61% Increase in First 3 Days Sparks Concerns

Surge in Char Dham Pilgrims: 61% Increase in First 3 Days Sparks Concerns

Surge in Char Dham Pilgrims: 61% Increase in First 3 Days Sparks Concerns

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The Char Dham pilgrimage, a sacred journey to the Himalayan shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath, has witnessed a significant surge in pilgrim numbers in the initial days of the yatra. Particularly noteworthy is the Kedarnath shrine, which experienced a remarkable 67% increase in footfall since its opening on May 10. Last year’s figure of 44,892 pilgrims in the first three days surged to 75,139 this time. Similarly, Gangotri saw a 61% rise, while Yamunotri recorded a 59% increase in pilgrim arrivals. Even in Badrinath, the influx was notable, with 22,690 devotees visiting on the first day, compared to 15,432 in the same period last year.

Since the yatra commenced on May 10, approximately 1.5 lakh pilgrims have visited the four shrine towns, marking a staggering 61% increase from last year’s 95,000 pilgrims in the same timeframe. However, this surge has raised concerns about the region’s limited carrying capacity and the strain on infrastructure. Pilgrims are enduring hours-long traffic jams and queues for temple entry, signaling potential challenges ahead.

Experts caution that if this trend persists, the total pilgrim count for the Char Dham yatra this year could surpass 80 lakh, overwhelming the hills’ infrastructure. Anoop Nautiyal, a social activist, emphasizes the need for policymakers to consider this surge in numbers when planning further arrangements. He warns that inadequate preparations could lead to potential disaster and tarnish Uttarakhand’s image as a tourist destination.

Recent videos showing large crowds navigating treacherous mountain paths to the Yamunotri shrine have sparked concern online, prompting the state police to urge pilgrims to avoid visiting for at least a day. Nautiyal underscores the importance of providing pilgrims with a positive experience and stresses the need for comprehensive planning based on data analysis and worst-case scenarios to ensure a smooth and safe yatra experience.