Nearly a year after flashfloods devastated large parts of Uttarakhand, long shadows of the natural disaster have clouded the annual pilgrimage to the Kedarnath shrine.
Though the pilgrimage to Kedarnath – part of the ‘char dham’ yatra – started on May 4, hoteliers and shop-keepers are still awaiting the devotees to the holy shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The shrine of Kedarnath and its adjoining areas were the worst affected in the June 16 floods which had left over 5,000 dead. Thousands of bodies were never found.
The floods had also damaged many strategic roads and most of them are yet to be repaired.
Kedarnath is 301 km from capital Dehradun but the last 20km to the shrine, from Sonprayag, has to be made on foot.
Local residents said that after the disaster last year, pilgrims are afraid to visit the state. Devotees from all over the country used to visit the shrine each year.
Vinod Semwal, who runs a hotel at Masta near Guptkashi – which falls on the route to shrine -- said that businessmen were having nightmare about the situation.
The entire economy of the region is dependent on the yatra and this time there is little movement of pilgrims, he said. He is, however, hopeful that the yatra would pick up after 20 May as has been the trend in the past.
Rameshwar Prasad, another hotelier at Korkhi, said till now “sales has been zero”.
“The entrance to the hotel is still closed and this shows that there is nil occupancy here. I am sitting here in the hope that someone comes soon,” he added.