With a motor road built between Govindghat and Pulna, the 22-km trek to the Himalayan Sikh shrine of Hemkund Sahib has been reduced by four km.
Pilgrims visiting Hemkund Sahib will now be able to go in their vehicles upto Pulna from where they will have to traverse a distance of only 18 km on foot to reach the shrine, Chamoli District Magistrate Ashok Kumar said.
Better facilities including rain shelters and tourist amenity centres have also been made for pilgrims on the 18-km trek route this year, he said.
Yatra to Hemkund Sahib will begin on May 30 as portals of the shrine are scheduled to reopen on June 1.
However, the 18-km route is not completely ready yet for pilgrims with a four km stretch between Ghangharia and Hemkund still clogged with snow.
But the district magistrate has expressed confidence that everything will fall into place by the time the yatra begins.
Powerlines damaged in snow avalanches at Hemkund and Ghangharia in the past have all been restored, he said, adding that measures have also been taken to deal with avalanches and additional police deployment is being made in more vulnerable areas for the safety of pilgrims.
Located at a height of about 16,000 ft, Hemkund Sahib is the highest altitude pilgrimage centre for Sikhs and is thronged by lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad.
It is closed with the onset of winter every year due to snowbound conditions.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat has asked the Centre to begin flight operations between Chandigarh, Amritsar, and Dehradun in view of Hemkund Sahib pilgrimage beginning from June 1.
The request was made by Rawat in a letter to civil aviation minister P Gajapathi Raju, an official release here said.