It is only been a couple of weeks since the Chardham yatra season began in Uttarakhand but nearly 2.5 lakh devotees have already visited the four famed Himalayan shrines which are part of the circuit. The increased arrival of devotees in the initial weeks is also being attributed to the visits of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee to Kedarnath and Badrinath respectively. The Chardham yatra had received a severe blow after the flash floods in 2013 that left hundreds dead and many stranded.
Modi paid obeisance at Kedarnath on May 3 whereas Mukherjee offered prayers at Badrinath on May 6 giving the message of a safe Uttarakhand to people outside the state. They visited the shrines on the very day their portals were reopened for devotees after their annual closure during winter.
On the very first day, 32,700 devotees bowed their heads before lord Vishnu at Badrinath, located at a height of over 10,000 feet in Chamoli district. As per official data made available here today 80,931 devotees had paid obeisance at Badrinath by May 10.
Similarly, 54,639 devotees have visited Kedarnath in Rudraprayag district since it reopened.
Gangotri and Yamunotri temples, the other two shrines on the Chardham circuit which were both reopened on the occasion of Akshay Tritiya on April 28, have received 42,709 and 57,707 devotees respectively in the first 13 days after their reopening, the data said.
Altogether, the number of visitors to the four shrines since their opening this year has reached 2,35,986 till May 10 and it is likely to gain momentum in the days to come. Chamoli District Magistrate Vinod Kumar Suman said seeing the enthusiasm of devotees one can say this figure is likely to cross the 10 lakh mark this season.