Dehradun: The annual Char Dham pilgrimage in Uttarakhand will begin on April 21 during the auspicious 'Akshaya Tritiya' festival, with the reopening of the Gangotri and the Yamunotri shrines in the Garhwal Himalayas, officials said on Sunday.
The Gangotri gates will be opened on 12.30 in the afternoon on Akshay tritiya, a holy day for Hindus and Jains. The gates for Yamunotri will also be opened on the same day at 11.30 in the morning, Gangotri Temple Secretary Suresh Semwal said.
The gates for the other two destinations - the Kedarnath and the Badrinath - will be opened on April 24 and April 26 respectively, officials said.
However, Kedarnath and Badrinath will remain closed during winters from October to November as the two shrines are situated at higher altitudes and cold conditions are extreme in the region, they said.
The tourists' footfall during the Char Dham yatra declined following the June 2013 disaster.
According to Uttarakhand Tourism Minister Dinesh Dhanai, the number of tourist who visited the Char Dham in 2012, a year before the disaster, was 2.84 crore.
The number declined to 2.09 crores after the disaster in 2013. It slightly went up to 2.26 crore in 2014, he said.
Meanwhile, the state government has taken several safety measures and a campaign 'Surakshit Uttarakhand' to inspire confidence among the tourists to take the yatra.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat said on the concluding day of the Himachal Pradesh assembly that the government is taking many steps to boost and promote the yatra.
The government is in talks with the tour operators to help promote the yatra on the websites, Rawat said adding this year's tour will take place safely and conveniently.