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Chardham: Take the road less travelled and walk in footsteps of Pandavas

If things fall in line, the adventurous among the Chardham pilgrims would be able to take the “world’s most ancient” trekking route — same as the Pandavas are said to have taken before embarking on their journey to heaven

dehradun Updated: Apr 16, 2018 22:19 IST
Deep Joshi
It is believed that the Pandavas visited the four shrines — Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri — to atone for their sins before embarking on their journey to heaven.
It is believed that the Pandavas visited the four shrines — Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri — to atone for their sins before embarking on their journey to heaven.(HT Photo for representation )

After promoting a trek to the Dronagiri mountains, said to be the one which Hanuman carried to Lanka after failing to find the life-saving mystical herb Sanjeevani Booti on it, the Uttarakhand government is now set to promote another trek that has a mythological connect to it.

If things fall in line, the adventurous among the Chardham pilgrims would be able to take the “world’s most ancient” trekking route — same as the Pandavas are said to have taken before embarking on their journey to heaven. The Chardham trekking route with two gateways — one from Rishikesh and the other from Vikasnagar —would be opened for the pilgrims by June, state tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said Monday.

“We are giving final touches to the plan to revive the world’s most ancient Chardham trekking route. This is the route through which the Pandavas reached this part of the Himalayas to atone for slaying their relatives in the battle of Mahabharata,” Maharaj said.

It is believed that the Pandavas visited the four shrines — Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri — to atone for their sins before embarking on their journey to heaven.

Claiming that the revival of the route will help check migration from the hills of Uttarakhand by giving a boost to “the mystical, adventure, and tribal tourism,” Maharaj said, “The yatra (pilgrimage) on the route will be launched by June.”

The government has appealed to the people to submit documents pertaining to the authenticity of the ancient route. “In that connection, we have also organised a competition,” Maharaj said. Those submitting genuine documents would be given cash prizes of Rs 1 lakh, Rs 51,000, and Rs 25,000. “This kind of competition is being organised so that nobody questions the authenticity of the ancient route after it is formally opened for the Chardham yatra. A coffee table book encompassing all the features of the ancient route will also be released soon.”

Talking about the trek, Maharaj said that the route opening from Vikasnagar (Dehradun) would lead to Gangotri and Yamunotri. The route starting from Rishikesh would have Badrinath and Kedarnath as its destinations.

The route starting from Vikasnagar has a number of trekking routes that criss-cross the mountainous tribal region of Jaunsar-Bawar. “The scenic landscape is dotted with the relics relating to the Pandavas,” Maharaj said. The pilgrims would be able to visit ancient Hindu temples like Lakhamandal, Lakshagriha (the house of lacquer) and the temples dedicated Karna and Duryodhan. Besides, the visitors would also enjoy view of the Himalayan peaks like the Panchachuli, Chaukhamba and Nanda Devi. The trekking route to the Chardham via Rishikesh is also dotted with enchanting vistas.

Maharaj said that undertaking a Chardham yatra through the trekking route would be a “different experience altogether”, compared to the annual yatra that lakhs of pilgrims undertake by road. “Visiting the fabled religious circuit through a mountainous trekking route will have its own charm. Pilgrims will be able to enjoy village life, feast their eyes on blooming rhododendrons along the entire trekking route besides soaking in the beauty of the snow capped mountain peaks.”

Plans were also afoot to provide separate food and boarding facilities to both seers and pilgrims who would be trekking to the Chardham. “For that charity organisations would be roped in to bear the expenses,” Maharaj said adding similar arrangements would be made for the pilgrims. “They will be able to hire articles like shoes, sticks and jackets from the rural folks.”

Tour and travel operators have welcomed the move.

“It is a good initiative, but the tourism department will have to announce the roadmap for that scheme. They will have to clarify what facilities they will be providing on that route. Also, there needs to be clarity on itineraries. If itinerary is spread over one month, then it will be difficult for youngsters, especially those from corporate sector, to undertake the trek,” said Harjinder Singh Malhotra, of Ease Your Travel.

Vikas Kumar of Travel Paradise said that for the idea to succeed the government will have to put in place proper infrastructure like hotels and restaurants.

“The idea will give a boost to tourism at religious destinations and trekking routes dotting the central Himalayan region. But all these features need to be highlighted and properly publicised. Most people outside Uttarakhand are not aware of those places of tourist attractions,” added Aman Kothari of Go Destiny Tours & Travel.