Stranded foreign pilgrims visit Badrinath as Char Dham shrines open

This is likely the first shrine out of the Char Dham shrines to welcome foreigners this year.
They have been living in Rishikesh for the past six months and went for the pilgrimage with the help of a travel company. (Ajay Lal/ HT Photo )
They have been living in Rishikesh for the past six months and went for the pilgrimage with the help of a travel company. (Ajay Lal/ HT Photo )
Updated on Aug 26, 2020 06:04 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Dehradun | BySuparna Roy

For the first time since pilgrims were allowed to visit Char Dham shrines in the state, a group of foreigners from different countries visited Badrinath shrine this week.

They have been living in Rishikesh for the past six months and went for the pilgrimage with the help of a travel company.

The group of seven foreigners followed all safety norms and got themselves tested for Covid-19 before visiting the shrine.

“It was an amazing feeling to have been able to visit Badrinath, amid the pristine mountains and experience the holy vibrations of the shrine,” said Carolina, from Lithuania who visited the shrine on Monday.

The pilgrims were from Canada, United States of America (USA), Netherlands, among others. This is likely the first shrine out of the Char Dham shrines to welcome foreigners this year.

Ravinder Negi, district information officer Chamoli district where Badrinath shrine is situated, said, “Over 10,000 pilgrims have visited the shrine since pilgrims were allowed this year, including some foreign visitors. Antigen tests are conducted for everyone entering the district and then at the temple premises thermal screening is carried out after which hands and shoes are sanitised. Even the vehicles in which the pilgrims come, those are also sanitised in the temple premises.”

Seema Nautiyal, tourism officer for Haridwar district, said that since the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March, 27 foreign tourists were stranded in the district, however, as per the records of July, there are three foreign tourists in the district.

Officials from Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board said that around 35,000 e-passes have been issued to pilgrims for visiting the shrines of which over 20,000 have visited the shrines. The response has been good despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Ravinath Raman, chief executive officer of Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board, said, “It is the effort of the state government that there should be a gradual influx of pilgrims in the four shrines so that tourism and pilgrimage can get momentum. The yatra is getting a good response also, and now people from outside Uttarakhand can also travel by making e-pass for Char Dham Yatra and fulfilling the health related standards.”

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Sunday, November 28, 2021