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Haridwar chock-a-block as lakhs of pilgrims take holy dip

Haridwar: An estimated 25 lakh pilgrims turned up at Haridwar's Har-ki-Pauri ghat on the occasion of Somvati Amavasya on Monday. The ritual bath continued till late in the evening, Ganga Sabha officials told. Due to the heavy influx of pilgrims, hotels, lodges, dharamshalas and ashrams in the town were packed to capacity. The large devotee turnout also helped local traders make a good profit. While the city witnessed traffic congestion due to the heavy influx of pilgrims, tight security arrangements were made to avoid any untoward incident on the occasion. However, Covid-appropriate behaviour went for a toss due to the pilgrim rush. The Covid norm of social distancing was not followed and a significant percentage of pilgrims were seen without masks.
Manoj Gehtori, a Haridwar resident, said, "The turnout was unprecedented on Monday as Somvati Amavasya was being celebrated properly after a gap of two years due to the Covid pandemic. Besides, people in several states are battling an intense heat wave. So, coming to Uttarakhand gave them some respite from the heat." Elated with a near-100% occupancy, Bhagat Ram, manager of Haridwar-based Hotel Classic Residency, said, "After a long time, we are packed to capacity. This has been a good day for hoteliers." Echoing a similar sentiment, Vimal Kumar, manager, Ashoka Hotel, said, "Amajority of the hotels are booked in Haridwar. It is good to welcome back customers." SP (traffic) Himanshu Verma told. "Considering the heavy pilgrim rush, the city didn't witness any long traffic jams due to prior preparedness of police. The pace of traffic may have slowed down on a couple of roads but it was nothing unmanable."

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