Where no journeys end

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As the portals of the four shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamnotri and Gangotri shut before they become inaccessible in the long winter months ahead, heralding the end of Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand for this season.

The four deities are carried down to their various winter homes or gaddisthals with their pujaris in tow. They will return next spring. In Pandukeshwar you can pay your obeisance to Lord Vishnu, who has come from Badrinath after the closing of the shrine. Ukhimath, is the winter home for Kedarnath; Mukba is the home to Goddess Ganga; and Kharsali is home to Goddess Yamunotri.

For years now, amongst the changing of governments, the State’s officers have been trying their best to ensure that the pilgrimage carries on throughout the year. It is hoped that their winter abodes will continue to attract pilgrims and visitors alike. Only religious tourism in the lean months of winter, can keep the home fires going and the cash register ringing.

Somehow, this idea has been slow to take off. The numbers of pilgrims coming to Devbhoomi in winter, is but a bare blip in comparison to the almost nine lakh pilgrims who flocked here in the peak season from May-November.

But officials are hopeful. They believe that it is just a matter of time before winter pilgrimage numbers will match the summer ones. Talking to Newspost, Vice President, Chardham Yatra Vikas Parishad, Acharya Shiv Prasad Mamgain who recently visited Gangotri and Yamnotri tells us, “The state government is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that the Chardham pilgrimage continues throughout the year. All weather roads, better civic amenities, promotion of Pandukeshwar, Ukhimath, Mukba and Kharsali will mean that there is year round employment for people.”

The government exudes confidence in the belief that their efforts will slowly begin to fructify. But only after the completion of the all weather road; improved civic amenities and connectivity to set the ball rolling. They are confident that once these are in place, then and then only will the task of promoting off-beat winter destinations become a part of the mythical map of religious tourism in Uttarakhand.