The monsoons are proving troublesome for pilgrims, especially Kanwar pilgrims, who want to visit lord Shiva’s shrine in Kedarnath. Heavy rains and frequent landslides on the way are making pilgrimage difficult.
The 16-km trek from Gaurikund to Kedarnath has been closed since last Friday because of landslide and swelled rivulets. It was opened on Sunday but the administration had to close it again on Monday because of heavy rainfall in the area.
There are many halting points enroute to Kedarnath from Gaurikund. On July 26, one pilgrim was washed away in the gushing rivulet (Barsati Nala) between Junglechatti and Bheembali while 5 were rescued. On July 29, two devotees were caught in the landslide near Cheerbasa and one of them was injured.
Junglechatti, Bheembali and Cheerbasa are vulnerable areas on the Gaurikund–Kedarnath trek, particularly during monsoon. The administration has to interrupt the yatra from time to time.
This correspondent found many devotees stranded in hotels and lodges at Sonprayag since Friday. They wanted to proceed to Kedarnath on Sunday but the administration and police were wary of letting them go further.
In all, 556 devotees were permitted to go to Kedarnath and only 21 have come back to Sonprayag. The remaining stayed back at Kedarnath for Jalabhishek on Monday.
When this report was being filed, the road from Sonprayag to Gaurikund, a stretch of about 5 km was also closed due to landslide and efforts were on to reopen it for devotees.
The road from Guptkashi to Gaurikund, the last stretch of about 32 km has also become unsafe at some points. The administration is facing a tough time in keeping the yatra on.
Praveen Kumar, executive engineer (national highway), Rudraprayag said almost 600 meters before Phata, a stretch of road has become unsafe because of the landslide. It is cutting at the base by river Mandakini.
“Unless a massive treatment from the river base is meted out, this stretch could create a serious problem for the road,” he said.
The 76-km road from Rudraprayag to Gaurikund also has vulnerable points at Chandrapuri, Baswara, Kakragad, Khumera and beyond Sonprayag that need constant vigil by the administration.
US Chauhan, sub-divisional magistrate (Ukhimath), said the yatra has to be interrupted time and again during the monsoon to ensure safety of the devotees.