As we all know, the Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand has begun. With all the necessary rituals, the portals of the four sacred pilgrimages, i.e., Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri after remaining closed in winter season has been thrown open for the devotees for the next six months. Tucked amidst the Garhwal Himalayas, the sacred shrines are visited by thousands of devotees each year. The aura is such that even the tragic flash floods in June 2013 were unable to break the spirit of the devotees. After almost three years of the tragedy, the Chardham tourism continues to grow along with devotees unwavering faith. It has been four days since the yatra has begun and there are a few incidents that have been reported at different temples beckoning a successful Chardham Yatra 2016. Here is the story so far of one of the biggest religious journeys in India.
For a quick recap, the portals of Yamunotri, Gangotri and Kedarnath were thrown open for devotees on May 9, whereas the shrines of Badrinath, Tungnath, and Bhavishya Badri were to open on May 11. On May 11, at 4.30AM, the portals of Badrinath amidst the ritualistic recitals were opened for the devotees. According to reports despite the nippy weather, pilgrims were seen arriving at Badrinath till late night. Devotees were seen queuing up from midnight itself, and the melodies of religious hymns were heard throughout the night. The queue was about 800m long by 10 AM. First time performing the pilgrimage, Ramlal Jaiswal from Varanasi said that the charm of the place is far more than what he had heard and that place has a lovely blend of nature and spiritualism. Another pilgrim from Varanasi, Sadhu Yadav told that he has been planning to visit Badrinath for more than two decades but was able to perform pilgrimage this year. He stated that he found the desired peace of mind after arriving here. Another pilgrim in the queue informed that he has been visiting Badrinath for past 13 years, it is his faith in Lord Badri that brings him here each year. Apart from these ardent devotees who spent time standing in queues for hours, many VIP entrants were also noticed in Badrinath. Karnataka’s former Chief Minister Y.S.Yeddyurappa worshiped at Badrinath temple in the evening at 5PM. Also, Kolkata’s High Court Justice, Nishita Mhatre’s husband, Nirmal Mhatre, and Madhya Pradesh’s High Court Justice S.K. Gangele’s spouse Sangeeta Gangele paid homage to Lord Badri Vishal as well.
Meanwhile, the third Kedar, Tungnath in Chopta also re-opened for devotees on May 11. With mandatory rituals and rites, the opening of the portals of this highest Shiva shrine was witnessed by one thousand people. Amidst the pitter patter rains, the palanquin was carried from Mukkumath (the winter home) to Tungnath at 8.30AM and after three times circumambulating the temple, which was adorned with multi-hued flowers, the palanquin was taken inside by 11.30AM. It is the first time after the tragedy of June 2013 that the temple was decorated in this manner According to Prakash Purohit, Management Committee Head about 1500 people paid homage at Tungnath on the day of opening. Along with Tungnath and Badrinath, the portals of Bhavishya Badri has also opened. Situated in the Chamoli District, Bhavishya Badri is amongst the famous Panch Badris. The temple is visited by several devotees who come for Chardham Yatra. And similar to Badrinath, this temple also opens for six months after the winter break. Like Badrinath, regular worship is done at Bhavishya Badri as well.
We have known about the grace of Lord Badri and the unwavering faith of people on him. Devotees are often heard making huge offerings at the feet of the presiding deity here and this year the name of Dr. Mehta from Jhunjhunwala, Rajasthan has come into the highlight. Dr. Mehta has made an offering of a 14kgs gold palanquin at the temple of Badrinath. The offering now is kept safe with Badrinath-Kedarnath Management Committee. Apart from it, a sum of Rs. 65lac and Rs. 15Lac for the Sandalwood and Saffron has been given by business tycoons Mukesh Ambani and Sanjeev Goenka respectively.
Kedarnath, which re-opened for pilgrims on May 9, was visited by 1842 people on Day 3 of the Chardham Yatra 2016. Kedarnath was the worst hit of the 2013 flash flood hit. The temple is situated at an altitude of 3583m and requires trekking 14kms to be reached. On the third day of its opening, about 1094 men and 684 women along with 63 children performed the pilgrimage. The temple opens at 7 AM. However, people start to queue up from 6 AM here. So far, a total of 10094 people has visited Kedarnath in past three days.
After the flash flood, the year 2016 seems to be the most promising year for Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand. Within three days of the opening of the shrines of Yamunotri and Gangotri about 27749 pilgrims have already visited. Last year in 2015, on the day of the portal opening of Gangotri 1033 people attended but this year the number rose to 4255. In Yamunotri last year, 904 pilgrims witnessed the portal opening ceremony, while this year 9000 people were present. On the third day of the yatra in 2015 in Gangotri, 667 people performed the pilgrimage, whereas this year by 5 PM, 4100 were recorded to have visited the temple. In Yamunotri, the number of people visiting last year on the third day was 761 but this year there were about 2870 devotees. This clearly shows that people’s faith has overcome the fear of flash flood tragedy altogether. Gangotri and Yamunotri are also enjoying the pleasant weather, although the temperature in the daytime is reaching up to 30º C, a good rain session in the evening brings the temperature down to 23º making the weather salubrious for the pilgrims.Photo Courtesy: Dastak-Facebook Community