Long traffic jams, lack of clean toilets and packed hotels are giving nightmares to thousands of pilgrims at the Char Dhams.
The four shrines also known as Char Dhams – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – attract lakhs of pilgrims every year. The pilgrimage faced a road block after the 2013 flash floods that claimed more than 5,000 lives. The number of pilgrims, however, surged last year with around 14 lakh visiting the four dhams. This year, the government expects the number to increase further.
Government records show that around 60,000 pilgrims have visited the four dhams so far. As the numbers soar, vehicles jostle for space and people are forced to wait in traffic jams.
Pramod Chaudhary, a pilgrim who had come to visit Badrinath shrine, said there was no system to control traffic and pilgrims jostle for darshan despite waiting in queue for hours.
“There is no token system. After spending thousands of rupees we still struggle for darshan. That makes us feel cheated,” Pramod told HT.
Another pilgrim Dinesh Mittoo from New Delhi was furious over the fact that there was not toilet nearby. “This is complete mismanagement. The women are the worst sufferers,” he fumed.
The situation in Kedarnath is no better. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has not given its nod to the private aviation companies to fly choppers to the shrine.
Concerned over the plight of tourists, cabinet minister Madan Kaushik said the government is looking into the reports of mismanagement at the four shrines.
“We have strictly told officials to act or face action” Kaushik told HT on Sunday.
Tourism expert Udit Ghildiyal said the government has not learnt its lessons yet. “Why can’t we have a system in place for smooth pilgrimage?” Ghildiyal wondered.