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Char Dham yatra to begin today, preparations in place

Dehradun/Uttarkashi: The Char Dham Yatra is scheduled to start early on Tuesday on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, with the opening of the Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines. The Kedarnath shrine, which usually draws the maximum number of pilgrims, will open on 6th May 2022, while the Badrinath shrine will open last on 8th May 2022.
"We are ensuring the best possible health and safety facilities for the pilgrims. Teams of doctors will be available for pilgrims and disaster personnel has been deployed at 32 locations along the Char Dham route," chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said.
Of the nearly 3 lakh devotees who have made online registrations for the Char Dham shrines, 90,000 are for Kedarnath alone. Helicopter rides to the Kedar shrine from Phata, Sirsi, and Guptakashi bases, bookings for which were offered from 6th May 2022 to 5th June 2022, were fully booked within days. Night stay arrangements have also been made for 6,000 pilgrims at Kedarnath.
State tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said that bookings for Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) rest houses along the Char Dham routes are nearly full for May as well as the major part of June. "Repair works have been completed at the rest houses and authorities have been asked to stay alert during the yatra period," he said. "We have been making the preparations for the past few months as we are confident of a positive response. Best possible efforts have been made to ensure pilgrims return with a smile," the minister added.
Meanwhile, preparations to open the Gangotri shrine early on Tuesday started on Monday. In a ritual held earlier in the day, priests took the idol of goddess Ganga out of Mukhba village (the deity's winter abode) and placed it in the palanquin. Afterward, the procession of devotees carrying the palanquin reached Bhairav temple, where they made a night halt.
Rajesh Semwal, a member of the Gangotri temple committee, told that "The procession will leave for the Gangotri temple early on Tuesday morning. the portals of the temple will open at the auspicious time of 11:15 am on Akshay Tritiya."
Priests and members of the Yamunotri temple committee have also completed preparations for the shrine's opening ceremony on Tuesday.
The palanquin of Goddess Yamuna will start from the deity's winter abode in Kharsali in the early hours of Tuesday before the shrine is opened at 12:15 pm on the day. Meanwhile, a section of tirth purohits (priests associated with the Char Dham shrines) opposed the government's move to limit the daily number of pilgrims at the four shrines to 38,000. Brifesh Sati, the spokesperson of the Teerth Purohit Hak-Hakookdhari Mahapanchayat, a body of priests, said. "People have already suffered major losses and just when things are returning to normal, a cap has been placed on the number of devotees visiting the revered shrines. This is not a pragmatic decision."

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