Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara, located at a height of over 15,000 feet above sea level, which bore the brunt of the recent rain ravage in Uttarakhand may remain closed for the rest of the year as the road link to the 17th century Sikh shrine has been badly damaged.
“We have decided to close Gurdwara Hemkunt Sahib as of now and asked staff of the Shri Hemkunt Sahib Management Trust to come down at Gurdwara Govind Dham, located lower at a height of 10,500 feet above sea level,” SHSMT Vice Chairman Narinder Jit Singh Bindra said, adding that it will be next to impossible to resume the pilgrimage this year.
The sealing of the Gurdwara with electric welding is underway, Mr. Bindra said. The entire process undertaken to keep all the food stock intact is likely to be completed in couple of days.
“We have instructed all the 70 odd staff members to come down at Gurdwara Govind Dham,” he added.
All the staff members of the SHSMT along with 130 other employees from Gurdwara Govind Dham would be airlifted to the plains when the choppers will resume sorties in two days, Mr. Bindra said.
“We have formed a committee which would visit and estimate the damage done to the Gurdwara and other buildings. It would also check the safety of the areas and advice on the repairs and maintenance,” Mr. Bindra added.
He said the Trust will ask Uttrakhand Government to allocate some more place in Gurdwara Govind Ghat for Langar (Community Kitchen), store and parking as the entire place was washed away by the Alaknanda on June 16.
Moreover, the Yatra work could resume only after the roads and bridges en route the Gurdwaras including Govind Ghat (6,000 feet) and Govind Dham (10,500 feet) were rebuilt, he added.
Notably, Hemkunt Sahib Gurdwara, situated at a height of over 15,000 feet above the sea level in the Himalayan ranges of northern India, has emerged as an important centre of Sikh pilgrimage which is visited by thousands of devotees from all over the world every summer.
According to Bachitra Natak, the autobiographical account of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, it was at Hemkunt ‘adorned with seven snow peaks’ that he meditated in his previous birth.