This year, large parts of Joshimath — the gateway to Badrinath — have been severely impacted by land subsidence, with cracks on many of its buildings and roads. But, CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said preparations for the yatra will not be affected by the problems in the ancient town, many of whose residents have vacated their homes and live in temporary shelters.
Work on the Helang bypass road, which would have provided an alternate route to Badrinath and skirted Joshimath, has come to a standstill following protests by local residents and advice from experts. It will remain on halt until studies that are underway suggest otherwise.
The Uttarakhand CM added: “Around 100 days are left for the start of the Badrinath yatra and we will ensure that all the preparations are in place. Pilgrims’ safety is to be kept in mind as well. Last year, there was a record turnout and this year, too, we expect a positive response from devotees.”
The Badrinath portal-opening date was announced in the presence of the Tehri royal family on Basant Panchami on Thursday, according to the Shri Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee (BKTC), the body administering the Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines.
Portals of Gangotri Dham and Yamunotri dham will open for devotees on Akshaya Tritiya, April 22. The date of opening of Kedarnath dham would be decided on the occasion of Maha Shivratri on February 18. The Kedarnath portal may open on April 25-26, sources said.
BKTC chairman Ajendra Ajay told TOI on Friday: “There will be no problem during the Badrinath yatra. On the basis of the expert committees’ findings, we’ll carry out the required work.”
In 2022, the yatra commenced on May 3 with the opening of the doors of Gangotri and Yamunotri after a six-month winter break. While Badrinath had a maximum footfall of 17.6 lakh, it was followed by Kedarnath with 15.6 lakh, Gangotri 6.2 lakh and Yamunotri 4.8 lakh.
Last year, Hemkund Sahib yatra, too, witnessed a huge response with over 2.4 lakh pilgrims at the revered Sikh shrine in Chamoli district. The total pilgrim footfall in 2022 was in excess of 45 lakh, as per state administration data.
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