New Delhi: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Friday announced that the Chardham Yatra in the state would start from September 18.
The announcement came as the Nainital High Court on Thursday lifted the ban on the Chardham Yatra and allowed only fully COVID vaccinated people with mandatory COVID-19 negative reports for the annual pilgrimage.
The Nainital High Court ordered devotees to follow strict COVID-19 protocols while setting a limit on the number of visitors allowed. The court said that only 800 devotees will be allowed in Kedarnath Dham, 1200 in Badrinath Dham, 600 in Gangotri and 400 in Yamunotri Dham in a day.
The High Court’s decision came on the affidavit filed on September 8 by the Uttarakhand government for granting permission for the yatra.
On June 28, the High Court had banned the Yatra till further orders. It considered various factors such as lack of health services in Chardham Yatra districts, lack of adequate preparedness to control COVID-19 infection, shortage of doctors and reports of district administration to reach a decision.
Meanwhile, as per the court order, heavy security arrangements will be made in Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi districts. Devotees will not be able to take ‘Shahi Snan’ at any holy site.
The Char Dham Yatra includes the four holy pilgrimages of Uttarakhand – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. All the four sites are located in the Garhwal region of the state.
Several other pilgrimages were banned due to the COVID pandemic. Apart from Chardham Yatra, the Uttarakhand government also had to ban the Kanwar Yatra in July this year due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.