Almora : Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami announced on Tuesday that residents of the state will not need to register for the Char Dham yatra pilgrimage, which is set to begin on April 22 with the opening of Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines. Additionally, offline registration will be made available for pilgrims coming from outside the state.
This announcement came a day after a meeting between the chief minister and representatives from the priest, hotelier, and transportation industries expressed concern over mandatory registration for pilgrims. The government's decision to allow offline registration aims to ensure that those coming from other states will not be denied "darshan" if they are unable to register online for some reason.
The Char Dham yatra pilgrimage had been curtailed in the two years before 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which adversely affected tourism and local businesses. However, a record 45 lakh pilgrims took the yatra last year, indicating a rebound in the industry. The state government believes that this year's pilgrimage will break last year's record.
During the meeting, Dhami also directed the authorities to ensure that pilgrims are not stopped at different locations for gathering information but only at one point on the route. He also asked that all preparations for the yatra be completed by April 15 and that crash barriers be set up along the yatra routes, with proper arrangements made at parking slots for drivers to stay and sleep. Dhami suggested that locals be roped in to guide the pilgrims, and that pilgrims also visit other places of religious importance. For this, he said, the tourism, police, and transport departments need to carry out publicity and awareness campaigns for devotees.
The recent protests against mandatory registration and proposed daily caps on the four shrines (19,000 at Badrinath, 16,000 at Kedarnath, 9,000 at Gangotri, and 5,500 at Yamunotri) were claimed to hamper the pilgrimage's progress, which is limping back to life after the Covid pandemic. However, the government's recent decision to make offline registration available and to remove the mandatory registration requirement for residents of Uttarakhand aims to alleviate these concerns.