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With a majority of districts in India falling under the orange and green zones, the lockdown in Uttarakhand has eased several restrictions. This includes allowing local pilgrims to visit the famous Char Dham (four abodes) in the state. By Upasana Singh
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has confirmed that pilgrims from Uttarakhand can now visit Kedarnath and other Himalayan temples in the state. An inter-state movement of people in the districts that are not in the red zone with confirmed cases of COVID-19 is permitted albeit with some restrictions.
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To the delight of many local pilgrims, the holy Char Dham— Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri, located in the three districts of the Garhwal region, falls under the green zone. This means that no cases of COVID-19 have been reported in these areas so far. However, pilgrims have been urged to follow social distancing rules while paying obeisance at the temples.
The Chief Minister has appealed to people that their safety is of utmost importance. The state government is waiting for things to get back to normal before allowing pilgrims from all over India to visit the sites. As reported by NDTV, Rawat said, “After the Kedarnath tragedy in 2013, a similar mood of despair gripped people, but we overcame it and the yatra was put back on track. I am confident Coronavirus will be defeated in the end and the usual glow will return to the temples.”
The Kedarnath temple, situated in Rudraprayag district, is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the most remote of the four Chota Char Dham sites—places of Hindu Pilgrimages in the lofty peaks of Himalayas. This year, the temple’s shrine was opened on April 29. But, due to the spread of Coronavirus in India and the subsequently extended lockdown, people were unable to travel there.
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While Gangotri and Yamunotri, located in the Uttarkashi district were reopened on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya on April 26, Badrinath in the Chamoli district has been scheduled to open on May 15.
It is believed that every Hindu should visit these sites during one’s lifetime to attain ‘moksha’ or salvation. Last year, setting a new record, over 37 lakhs devotees visited the four shrines. Typically, the Char Dhams in Uttarakhand open every year in April-May and shut down in October-November, with the beginning of winter season.