Zee Media Bureau
Dehradun: The religious trip to Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines opened for pilgrims on Saturday, almost four months after flash floods and heavy rains led to the halt of the annual "Char Dham Yatra" in Uttarakhand.
In the wake of the massive destruction, vehicles will be stopped at Soneprayag on the Kedarnath route and pilgrims will have to trek 24 km to reach the Kedarnath temple.
Small vehicles will, however, be allowed right up to the Badrinath shrine.
Taking a lesson, the state government will issue travel passes for the pilgrimage in a bid to control the number of people to be sent to shrine. Moreover, health check-up will be mandatory for pilgrims.
The route to the famous shrines was closed for common people on June 17 onwards due to heavy devastation.
Earlier, officials had fixed October 01 as the date for reopening of the shrines but due to a weather office warning of rains till October 04 and the ongoing inauspicious period of "Pitra Paksh", the date was deferred to October 05.
Officials, however, said that heavy vehicles like buses and others will still not be allowed on the motorable paths as the state government was not "prepared for heavy rush as yet".
The pathways used by mules and horses on the Kedarnath route have also been repaired and the pilgrims will allowed on the route from Soneprayag in the Rudraprayag district, the official added.
Formal "puja" was restarted in the Kedarnath shrine last month. Puja has also been started in the Hemkund Saheb, the Gurdwara enroute to Badrinath.
The pilgrimage however would not be for long as their "kapat" (doors) would close for the winter breaks from December onwards.
Sources say that the Bahuguna government fast tracked the reopening of the shrines to send out a message of normalcy and fast rehabilitation.
(With IANS inputs)