Char Dham Yatra | 149 pilgrims succumb to ailments, accidents in two months

Over 31,78,000 people have visited the Badrinath-Kedarnath-Gangotri-Yamunotri shrines since the beginning of the yatra season

Updated - June 26, 2023 08:01 pm IST

Published - June 26, 2023 07:53 pm IST - New Delhi

Devotees wearing raincoats visit the Kedarnath temple amid rain, in Rudraprayag district on June 25, 2023.

Devotees wearing raincoats visit the Kedarnath temple amid rain, in Rudraprayag district on June 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The initial 65 days of the annual Char Dham Yatra season in Uttarakhand saw the deaths of 149 pilgrims. Over 31,78,000 people have visited the Badrinath-Kedarnath-Gangotri-Yamunotri shrines since the beginning of the yatra season that started on April 22, 2023.

Of the 149 deaths, 72 were reported from Kedarnath only. Till June 26, 28 pilgrims had died in Yamunotri, and 27 pilgrims died in Badrinath and 16 in Gangotri, respectively. Six pilgrims also died during the yatra of Hemkund Sahib, the Sikh shrine where doors were opened on May 26.

According to State Disaster Management officials, most of the deaths were caused by prolonged ailments among pilgrims, who could not bear the harsh weather conditions and tough terrain. Some of the pilgrims also died due to accidents on their way to temples.

“Most of the deaths were due to heart attack,” an official from the Health Department said. The official added that most of the deceased were elderly who had failed to acclimatise to the weather.

In 2022, over 300 people died during the Char Dham Yatra.

In the first 65 days of the yatra this year, 10,61,889 persons visited the Kedarnath temple; 9,61,939 pilgrims visited Badrinath; 5,61,490 pilgrims visited Gangotri; and 4,83,340 pilgrims visited Yamunotri.

About 1,03,080 pilgrims also visited Hemkund Sahib.

With almost four months still left for the yatra to end, the State is expecting at least 50 lakh pilgrims to visit the shrines this year. The yatra will end with closing of the portals of the Badrinath temple, likely in the third week of November.

Last year, the yatra saw a record footfall of over 40 lakh pilgrims.

The yatra is not only a religious extravaganza but a massive revenue and employment generating exercise for Uttarakhand, according to the State’s Finance Department officials. The yatra provides direct and indirect employment to over 10 lakh people involved with hotels, guides, restaurants and eateries, cabs, priests, mule operators, porters, travel operators, and the handicrafts industry.

“The economy of the Char Dham Yatra is estimated at approximately ₹7,500 crore. This contributes to the maximum share of State’s economy,” the officials said.

After the 2013 floods destroyed the Kedarnath shrine, the State invested ₹1,000 crore in redevelopment work from 2017 onward. The Badrinath temple is undergoing a facelift at an estimated cost of ₹550 crore, funded mainly by the Union government.

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