Uttarakhand: Kedarnath Temple opens with daily limit on pilgrims
After a gap of over two years—courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic—the doors (kapat) of the holy temple of Kedarnath Dham in Uttarakhand finally opened for devotees on Friday. A large number of devotees were present during the grand event without most COVID-19 restrictions, but the government has set a daily limit for pilgrims. Chief Minister Pushkar Dhami too participated in the early morning prayers.
Why does this story matter?
The journey to the Kedarnath shrine is part of the auspicious Hindu pilgrimage known as the Char Dham Yatra in the Himalayas. As the area is prone to natural calamities, officials remain vigilant and make extra preparations to ensure the Yatra runs well. The Indo-Tibetan Border Force (ITBP), which leads the security and disaster preparation teams, has made considerable preparations.
Devotees throng the 'abode of god'
Thousands of devotees waited for their turn at the gates as the spectacular opening was conducted by Rawal of Kedarnath, Bhimashankar Linga, who opened the doors of Baba Kedar. Several worshippers could be seen standing at the entrance amid Vedic chanting in a video shared by ANI. According to reports, 15 quintals of flowers were used to adorn the temple on the inaugural day.
Watch video of opening ceremony shared by 'ANI'
No major COVID-19 restrictions but cap on daily pilgrims
Although the state administration has relaxed all major COVID-19 limitations, it has put a daily limit of 12,000 pilgrims for Kedarnath Temple. After nearly two years, authorities launched the Char Dham Yatra on Tuesday (May 3), and there are no COVID-19 restrictions on pilgrims. Unlike last year, the government no longer requires pilgrims to carry any negative COVID-19 test reports or vaccination certificates.
Facilities in place for Char Dham Yatra devotees
In collaboration with private organizations, the Uttarakhand government is providing free health services to Char Dham Yatra devotees. These services would guarantee that passengers have a "safe and comfortable Yatra." Such amenities will also be available at Badrinath, which is set to open on May 8. Notably, Char Dham Yatra comprises the four Hindu pilgrimages in the Himalayas, namely Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath.
Char Dham Yatra began on the occasion of Akshay Tritiya
According to the Uttarakhand administration, only 7,000 pilgrims would be admitted daily at Gangotri, 15,000 at Badrinath, 12,000 at Kedarnath, and 4,000 at Yamunotri. To note, Char Dham Yatra was kickstarted on Tuesday on the occasion of Akshay Tritiya. Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Dhami reportedly opened the Gangotri and Yamunotri portals to worshippers on Tuesday.