The Uttarakhand government is planning to start the Char Dham Yatra in a big way to lesser-known religious destinations such as Joshimath, Ukhimath, Mukhba and Kharsali. The government has asked the state tourism department to explore all possibilities for the publicity of the winter Char Dham Yatra.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting here on Tuesday where priests and members of the temple committees of all the four Char Dham shrines – Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Badrinath – unanimously approved a proposal of the state government to start the yatra to these places.
The meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Harish Rawat.
Nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas, Joshimath, a picturesque town in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, is the wintry sojourn of Lord Vishnu when the Badrinath temple remains closed.
Like Joshimath, all the other three Char Dham deities , Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri in the Garhwal region, are also worshiped in their nearby wintery sojourns – Ukhimath, Mukhba and Kharsali, respectively.
The idols and symbols installed at Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are being taken to villages located in lower areas nearby to be worshipped during winter.
“If yatra is conducted to the winter sojourns of the deities and symbols of the four shrines, it will be a new beginning and will make the yatra season in Uttarakhand a year-long affair,” said Rawat.
The famous Himalayan shrines are closed in October-November every year due to heavy snowfall in the area and are reopened in April-May when the snow melts.
The chief minister said it was a move to boost religious tourism in the state but the nod of the priests and temple committees was needed.
Interestingly, a similar proposal was discussed during the former N D Tiwari government also. But no decision was taken at that time.