The tourism season has begun on a high note in Kedarnath. Barely one and a half months after opening, the famous Hindu shrine has recorded an impressive attendance. Which also hints that Kedarnath might touch an all time high figure this year.
The temple, located in district Ruderprayag, reopened after six month of winter break on 3 May this year. So far 3.48 Lakh tourists have visited Kedarnath. Which is much higher than the number registered last year. Post 2013 disaster, Kedarnath registered satisfactory attendance last year with 1.54 Lakh pilgrims visiting the flash-flood hit Mandakini valley. But, this year the pilgrimage season has received an overwhelming response.
Kedarnath had recoded the biggest gathering ever in its history in 2012 by registering 5.83 Lakh devotees. In fact, Kedarnath has attracted over five Lakh pilgrims in a season only thrice- in 2007,2011 and 2012. And over four Lakh tourists only four times- in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Tends available clearly hints that this year Kedarnath might touch a record figure this year.
Gyanendra Bagwadi, tourist in-charge of Ruderprayag Zila Panchayat office, says, “The season has witnessed record footfall. We are happy that the traditional palanquin and basket (Kandi) were in popular demand among tourists.“
The Ruderprayag Zila Panchayat regulates the mule, Dandi (palanquin) and Kandi (basket) operations in Kedarnath by issuing licenses and fixing rate of the trip.
According to District Disaster Conrtol Room (Ruderprayag) this year (till 18 May) about 56,600 pilgrims opted for choppers, 96,274 others for mules, 3,844 preferred palanquins, 5819 were ferried by basket and rest took the tough 16 km trek to Kedarnath.
With Monsoon round the corner, the arrival has witnessed a major downfall and it has got reduced to 1,000-1,200 visitors per day. Earlier it was over 10-12,000 pilgrims daily. Still a long season prevail and after a high opening Kedarnath can touch a new figure by the end of the season in November.
Local resident Nagendra Sharma from Lamgondi village says, “After the two month of rainy season the tourism season will pick up pace again in September-October. This year the flow was smooth.”
The Kedarnath opening received a big media hype this year with Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering prayer at the temple on 3 May.