Yatra for Hemkund Sahib resumed on Saturday after more than three months of its suspension due to the mid-June deluge in the State.
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna flagged-off a batch of 495 pilgrims from Govindghat in Chamoli district at around 11 a.m. on Saturday. These pilgrims were from Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand.
Shri Hemkund Sahib Management Trust vice-chairman Narinder Jeet Singh Bindra said: “We will limit the number of pilgrims to 500 for a week, after which we will decide whether more pilgrims can be sent.”
Chamoli District Magistrate S.A. Murugesan said: “Registration of pilgrims was done at Govindghat and permission for the yatra was given on the basis of the health analysis of the pilgrims.”
The yatra, suspended on the evening of June 16 as around 7 km of the 19-km trek route to Hemkund Sahib, was damaged at various places between Govindghat and Hemkund Sahib.
Alternative routes have been constructed to avoid passing over the damaged route. Around 200 mules are available for pilgrims to cross the 19-km path from Govindghat to Hemkund Sahib. Also, helicopter services are available from Joshimath to Ghangaria, which is 6 km before Hemkund Sahib.
People, including restaurant and mule owners, whose livelihood depends on the yatra said the resumption of the pilgrimage will, to an extent, help them recover the losses incurred due to its suspension in June.
Prayers at Hemkund Sahib were resumed 10 days after the resumption of prayers at Kedarnath.
Mr. Bahuguna said: “The yatra to Gangotri has also started [on Saturday]. Also, the Kedarnath yatra will be open for pilgrims from October 1.”
Though prayers at Badrinath are on, the road to it is blocked. “The road to Badrinath will be unblocked within 15 days,” Mr. Bahuguna added.