The four shrines of Uttarakhand—Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri, popularly known as the Char Dham Yatra may start welcoming pilgrims from June 8 onwards. By Upasana Singh

As the Centre has eased lockdown restrictions all over India, religious places, malls, and restaurants across states have been given the green signal to resume operations. Popular for its Hindu pilgrimage sites, Uttarakhand has decided to start religious tourism for the Char Dham shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri from June 8. But there is a catch–only pilgrims from Uttarakhand will be allowed to take the yatra as it will not allow people to come in from other states (for now).

 

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The New Indian Express reported, “The pilgrims from Uttarakhand will be allowed, from June 8, to visit the shrines. The number of pilgrims to be allowed is yet to be decided,” said Madan Kaushik, Cabinet Minister and state government’s official spokesperson. He further added that initially, the yatra will begin for devotees on a limited scale and after discussing the matter with governments of other states and reviewing the entire Coronavirus-related situation, it will be open for pilgrims from other states as well.

The four famous Himalayan shrines were opened in April and May, however, visitors were not allowed to enter the temples. Only the priests and temple officials were present during the opening ceremonies. The Yamunotri and Gangotri temples opened on April 26, while Kedarnath and Badrinath opened their doors on April 18 and May 15, respectively. Last year, more than 38 lakh pilgrims offered their prayers and visited the pilgrimage sites. However, this year, the priests’ association have expressed their concerns about starting the yatra for the pilgrims in the state given the increasing number of Coronavirus cases in Uttarakhand. They believe that the Char Dham Yatra should be postponed by a few more weeks.

Religious tourism is an important sector in Uttarakhand, as it houses some of the most significant pilgrimage and religious centres in India. The sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown restrictions. With the Centre’s permission, the state government hopes to revive domestic travel.

Related: Cater To Your Spiritual Self & Trod Along The Char Dham Circuit Post Lockdown