Uttarakhand: Char Dham Yatra to Kedarnath halted amid heavy rain; IMD warns of thunderstorms

A handful of the pilgrims managed to reach Kedarnath, which has been experiencing rainfall since Sunday night
The Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district. (HT PHOTO)
The Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district. (HT PHOTO)
Published on May 23, 2022 03:49 PM IST
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MUSSOORIE/ DEHRADUN: The Char Dham Yatra to Kedarnath was halted on Monday amid gusty winds, heavy rain and snowfall in Uttarakhand even as the pilgrimage to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Hemkund Sahib, and Badrinath continued as usual.

The Hemkund Sahib Yatra began on Sunday with 5,000 pilgrims allowed to visit the shrine daily. “Hemkund Sahib experienced light snow on the day the portals of the shrine were opened but it has not affected the yatra,” said Hemkund Sahib Management Trust vice president NS Bindra.

The district administration cited the pilgrims’ safety and stopped the yatra for the Kedarnath shrine at Rudraprayag.

District disaster management officer NK Rajwar said due to the heavy rain, the pilgrims, who have arrived in Ukhimath, Sonprayag and Gaurikund, were asked to stay there until further announcement as winds, thunderstorms and lightning pose a risk to them on their way to Kedarnath.

Over 10,000 pilgrims were waiting for the yatra to resume. “We were heading for Kedarnath but the administration did not allow us to go ahead citing heavy rains...we stayed at a hotel in Rudraprayag,” said Vimla Shekhawat, a pilgrim from Rajasthan.

Another pilgrim Man Bhadur Thapa from Nepal said the gusty winds made commuting difficult. “So, we decided to stay at Agastyamuni and wait for the rain to subside before heading for Kedarnath.”

A handful of the pilgrims managed to reach Kedarnath. “Kedarnath has been experiencing rainfall since last [Sunday] night and as the yatra has been stopped, only those pilgrims who were staying overnight are being escorted to the shrine and being sent back...,” said KN Goswami, a nodal officer at Kedarnath.

Ram Prakash Singh, a pilgrim from Madhya Pradesh who arrived in Kedarnath on Sunday, said with a smaller number of pilgrims, he was able to perform full prayers and spend time meditating near the temple premises in Kedarnath on Monday.

The India Meteorological Department, in its special forecast for the Char Dham area, has issued an alert for thunderstorms with hail and lightning till 8.30 am on Tuesday. It also issued an alert of high-velocity winds in the range of 70-80 km per hour. Uttarakhand separately reported 10.7 mm of rainfall between 8.30 am Sunday to 8.30 am Monday.

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