This is a collection of newspaper articles selected for the excellence of their content.
This section has been extracted from
THE IMPERIAL GAZETTEER OF INDIA, 1908.
OXFORD, AT THE CLARENDON PRESS.
Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units, and many tahsils upgraded to districts. Some units have since been renamed. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.
Famous temple and place of pilgrimage in Garhwal District, United Provinces, situated in 30 degree 44' N. and 79 degree E., imme- diately below the snow peak of Mahapanth, at an elevation of 11,753 f eet above sea-level. It marks the spot where Sadasiva, a form of Siva, in his flight from the Pandavas, assumed the form of a buffalo and attempted to dive into the earth to escape his pursuers, but left his hind quarters on the surface. A rock is still worshipped as part of the deity, and the remaining portions of his body are reverenced elsewhere : at Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpesh- war. Four miles from the temple on the way to the Mahapanth peak is a precipice known as the Bhairab Jhamp, where devotees formerly committed suicide by flinging themselves from the summit ; but the British Government suppressed this practice shortly after annexation. The Kawal or chief priest of Kedarnath is always a Jangama from Mysore or some other part of Southern India. Large numbers of pilgrims annually visit Kedarnath.
Area : 3 sq km.
Season : May to October.
Rainfall : 1475 mm.
Summers : Light woollens.
Winters : Very heavy woollens.
Languages : Garhwali, Hindi and English.
Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun, 239 km.
Helicopter Service is available from Agastya Muni to Kedarnath (Rudraprayag).
Nearest railway station is Rishikesh, 221 km.
Kedarnath is approachable on foot, 14 km from Gaurikund, which is connected by road with Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar and other important hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon hills.
Local Transport :
Horses, dandies and ponies are available at Gaurikund for going and carrying luggage to Kedarnath.
Kedarnath, Ph. No. : 01364-263228.
Rishikesh (Yatra Office), AGM (Tourism), GMVN Ltd., Tourist Information Centre,
(Advance Reservation Centre)
Shail Vihar, Haridwar By Pass Road, Rishikesh Pin: 249201.
Tel.: 0135-2431793, 2431783, 2432648, 2430799.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 m on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in the district itself, the most important one is Kedarnath.
According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own brothers and sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed he dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations. The arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madhmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. Kedarnath and the four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar.
Places to see
An imposing sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door, a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architectured Kedarnath temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old. Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut gray slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs had been handled in the earlier days. The temple has a "Garbha Griha" for worship and a Mandap, apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.
The Shri Kedarnath Temple
By Pramod Nautiyal Shri Badrinath-Kedarnath Temples Committee
Location : 14 Km Trek From Gaurikund
Dedicated To : Lord Shiva
Altitude : 3,581 m
Built In : 8th Century AD
Lord Shiva manifested in the form of Jyotirlingam or the cosmic light. Kedarnath is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas. This ancient and magnificient temple is located in the Rudra Himalaya range. This temple, over a thousand years old is built of massive stone slabs over a large rectangular platform. Ascending through the large gray steps leading to the holy sanctums we find inscriptions in Pali on the steps.
The present temple was built by Adi Shankaracharya.The inner walls of the temple sanctum are adorned with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. The origin of the revered temple can be found in the great epic - Mahabharata. According to legends, the Pandavas sought the blessings of lord Shiva to atone their sin after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being followed, he dived into ground leaving behind his hump on the surface.
Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries. It is situated at an altitude of 3,581 mt. It is a 14 km trek from Gaurikund.
At the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Kedarnath to Ukhimath, and is reinstated at Kedarnath, in the first week of May. It is at this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock from all parts of India, for a holy pilgrimage. The shrine closes on the first day of Kartik (Oct-Nov) and reopens in Vaishakh (Apr-May) every year. During its closure the shrine is submerged in snow and worship is performed at Ukhimath.
Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. It is set amidst the stunning mountainscape of the Garhwal Himalayas at the head of the Mandakini River. Kedar is another name of lord Shiva, the protector and the destroyer. Shiva is considered the embodiment of all passions - love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism which are expressed through his various forms.
The shrine of Kedarnath is very scenically placed, and is surrounded by lofty, snow - covered mountains, and during summer grassy meadows covering the valleys. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Keadardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. The sight of the temple and the peak with its perpetual snows is simply enthralling.
The Mythological Past
There are more than 200 shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva in Chamoli district itself, the most important one is Kedarnath. According to legend, the Pandavas after having won over the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra war, felt guilty of having killed their own Kith and Kin and sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for redemption. He eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull.
On being followed he dived into the ground, leaving his hump on the surface. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva appeared at four other places and are worshipped there as his manifestations.
The arms appeared at Tungnath, the face at Rudranath, the belly at Madmaheshwar and his locks (hair) with head at Kalpeshwar. Kedarnath and the four above mentioned shrines are treated as Panch Kedar.
An imposing sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in 8th century A.D. by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architectured Kedarnath temple is considered to be more than 1000 years old. Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut grey slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs had been handled in the earlier days. The temple has a Garbha Griha for worship and a Mandap, apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.
Sanctum sanctorum goldplated
Kautilya Singh, Oct 27, 2022: The Times of India
Dehradun: The meticulous gold plating of the sanctum sanctorum of revered Kedarnath temple was completed, a day before the shrine is to close for a six-month winter break. The work was done around Diwali. Eighteen ponies were used to carry 550 gold sheets to the shrine and 19 workers did the gold plating under the supervision of two senior officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The initial work -- taking measurements, preparing the stone walls for fixing the gold sheets, etc -- began about one-and-a-half months back. Around a week ago, a six-member team from Roorkee-based Central Building Research Institute, IIT-Roorkee and ASI had inspected the shrine, and based on their recommendations, the gold fitting was done.
Incidentally, in 2017, the sanctum sanctorum walls were covered in silver, for which around 230 kg of the metal was used. In the initial phase of gold plating work, the silver plates were removed and the temple interior was cleaned. Thereafter, copper fitting was done to get the actual size of gold plates required. The surface area covered by gold is more that what was covered by silver.
Four pillars, Jalhari (boundary wall on all four sides of the inner Shivling), Chhatra (canopy), ceiling and the interior wall of the sanctum sanctorum, were covered in gold.
Authorities didn’t reveal the exact quantity of gold used or money spent. About a week back, these gold sheets were brought from Delhi to Gaurikund under tight security. The entire gold has been donated by a person from Maharashtra whose identity has not been disclosed. Chairman of Shri Badrinath Kedarnath Temple Committee (BKTC) Ajendra Ajay told TOI, “At the time of gold fitting, two officers of ASI were present.”
The team and workers had to battle inclement weather conditions and altitude to get the work done on time. We appreciate their effort.” In August, BKTC had sent a letter to the secretary of religious affairs in Uttarakhand, Hari Chand Semwal, seeking the government's nod for gold coating of the temple interiors.
When work started, some priests had opposed the move, saying it was against tradition and tampered with the centuries-old structure.
Best Time to visit:
The ideal time or peak season to go for a Char Dham Yatra is from May to October, except monsoons. This is because; all the four sacred sites are perched in Garhwal Himalayas, which is prone to heavy snowfall. As a result, all the passage leading to the shrines are blocked. Moreover, during the monsoon season, there is undue threat of having landslides, which can further disrupt the journey.
Kapat Closing:- The kapat [doors] of the Shri Kedarnath Temple were closed in 2013on the 5th Nov.
Kedarnath: climate/ cloudbursts
Cloudburst on Kedar Dome no freak event
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
New Delhi: The June 16, 2013 cloudburst over Kedarnath, or to be exact over the mountain peak called Kedar Dome which stands at 6,831m,cannot be called a freak climatic phenomenon. Since 1998,the frequency of such heavy, concentrated rainfall over a short period has increased. Ukhimath witnessed the phenomenon in 1998,followed by a series of such events in 2002 in Phata in Mandakini Valley,Khedgaon in Kumaon,and Agunda in Bhilangar Valley.In 2003,Tehri,too,saw such abnormally high rainfall,as did Ladakh in 2010 which triggered mudslides leading to 255 deaths.
While cloudbursts are a natural hazard, our approach to development increases our vulnerability to hazards, said Dr Anirudh Uniyal,a scientist at Remote Sensing Application Centre, Lucknow.The real reason behind the catastrophe was overloading of the hill slopes with built structures. Until a few decades ago, a visit to Kedarnath was considered hazardous enough for people to start for the pilgrimage early morning and return by late afternoon, said Uniyal.
Dangers, as in 2020
March 19, 2020: The Times of India
Almost seven years after flash floods ravaged the Kedarnath valley in Uttarakhand, killing around 5,000 people, scientists have warned that conditions are developing for a similar tragedy to again unfold in the region. They have attributed this to the rampant redevelopment work happening in Kedarnath, especially pertaining to a ‘samadhi sthal’ (memorial site) for 8th century seer Adi Shankaracharya who is believed to have passed away at Kedarnath.
The manner in which works are being undertaken for the project is “a grave cause for concern”, scientists have said. At a seminar held a few days ago at the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) that was also attended by principal scientific advisor (PSA) to the PM, K Vijay Raghavan, scientists explained how the fragile ecology of Kedarnath was being disturbed.
Delivering a presentation, MPS Bisht, director of Uttarakhand Space Application Centre (USAC), an autonomous organisation under the state department of science and technology that works in association with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said, “Just 50 metres behind the Kedarnath temple, a pit has been dug that is 100 metres wide and 50 feet deep for building the 'samadhi sthal'. This pit may turn out to be extremely dangerous in future." The pit, if left uncovered, will fill up with snow every winter. In 2019, there was 48 feet of snow.
Bisht said, “We already have huge glaciers in that topography and on top of that we are digging such a huge pit. This is bound to disturb the fragile ecology of the region. We have been seeing increasing seismic activity and earthquakes. Why are we creating a situation for another disaster like the 2013 tragedy to take place again?”
Bisht cited another example of “unabated unscientific work in the valley.” He said, “There was earlier a road to the Kedarnath temple from the right bend of the Mandakini river. In the 2013 floods, the road sustained heavy damages. Thereafter, a new 9 km-long road has been constructed but this is being made on the left bend of the river. This is completely unscientific. There was a reason why the original road was constructed on the right bend by our ancestors. This was because the left bend has ‘loose glacial sediments’ which means that any structure here is prone to avalanches and landslides.”
Other scientists at the conference agreed. “Kedar means 'swamp land', and digging a 50 feet deep pit here will only invite trouble considering that there are glaciers nearby like Chorabari (whose bursting had triggered the 2013 disaster),” said a scientist from the Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology. He added, “The road being built to Kedarnath is being made on the most vulnerable area of Kedarnath valley and may any day collapse under the pressure of so many glacier shoots which are directly opening on the road.”
Raghavan, speaking to TOI, acknowledged that revelations provided by the scientists were “an eye-opener” and may be “tipping points.” He said, “There are two types of environmental concerns — those which are slow and others which are tipping points. Tipping points happen because there is some major environmental change which has now reached its threshold. In both cases, it is important to analyse data and take action in a calm way.”
State government officials passed the buck. “The construction work has been outsourced to an agency and it is their job to take all clearances including environmental ones,” said Madan Kaushik, urban development minister and official spokesperson of the government.
POINT OF CONTENTION
The samadhi has a budget of around Rs 20 crore, out of which Rs 10 crore has been spent till December 2019. Funds for the project are part of a Rs 60 crore corpus given by an industrial conglomerate under its CSR initiative. The project entails having a 3D statute of Adi Shankaracharya inside a round-shaped pit. Pilgrims will enter the pit, circumambulate the statue and exit from another gate towards the Bhairon temple. A space for doing meditation near the statue is also being constructed inside the pit.
Manoj Semwal, manager of Woodstone Construction Company, which is involved in redevelopment works in the Kedar valley, said, “Getting clearances is the government’s job, not ours.” He added that “as part of the team led by personnel of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, we made the approach road to Kedarnath soon after the 2013 tragedy when no one was even able to reach here due to the massive devastation. At that time, all clearances were taken for the work. Now, we are just involved in the construction work of samadhi sthal. The government might have taken the clearances for this,” he added.
What really caused the destruction in 2013 floods
In June 2013, the bursting of the Chorabari lake, above Kedarnath, was considered the main cause for the mass destruction caused by the floods. As the floods hit Mandakini valley, the lake water mixed with debris and boulders caused widespread destruction in the temple town. However, Himalayan geologists and Padma Shri awardee, KS Valdiya told TOI in 2013, “Heavy rain and cloudbursts were natural, but the tragedy that followed in Kedarnath was entirely man-made." According to him, the heavy loss of life and property in the deluge was a result of “criminal oversight” over the decades of the state’s geological features and water channels by various authorities.
The geologist identified four major ways in which constructions flouted scientific norms.
The seismic faultlines of this earthquake-prone state were not kept in mind while building roads. “These tectonic faultlines, which are active and see back-and-forth movements, have been cut in many places by roads. More dangerously, roads are built along the faultlines at many places. As a result, tiny seismic movements in the faultlines weaken the rocks at the base of the roads, making these stretches susceptible to cave-ins and slides,” Valdiya said.
2. Drainage was neglected. Buildings have been constructed over old drains and streams, blocking the natural pathways of rainwater. “One of the reasons for the devastation at Kedarnath was that people had constructed houses on the west stream of the Mandakini river that had been dry for decades. When the river returned to its old course following the deluge, these constructions were washed away,” he said.
3. Another transgression was construction on river flood ways. “In places along Alakananda/Ganga such as Karnaprayag and Rishikesh, constructions have taken place on the lower terraces which are part of the flood way. Sooner or later, water would get to these places,” Vaidya said.
4. Roads were built over the debris of previous landslides because it’s costlier to build paths higher up on the hills where the rock is firmer. “Sadly, the department geologists are often no more than rubber stamps, okaying everything the engineers say. Independent geologists are never consulted,” he said.
The cloudburst of June 2013
A major ecological tragedy took place in June 2103. This chart highlights the important issues.
Temple unscathed by 2013 cloudburst tragedy
Shrine statues,Nandi still intact
Devastated by June 16, 2013 afternoons flash-floods,’Kedarnath town stands virtually razed but for the 1200-year-old Shiva temple built by Adi Shankaracharya. The shrine stands in six feet of debris. The statues and the lingam inside the shrine, as well as that of his mount, Nandi the bull, adorning the 250ft x70ft courtyard, are intact.Call it a miracle, but the Nandi statue and the other idols in the temple are intact, an official told news agencies here, adding that pilgrims who were inside the temple when the cloud burst took place had survived.
2013: Faith reinforced
Flash floods can’t sweep away their faith in God
Bella Jaisinghani | TNN 2013/06/23
Much less than shaking people’s belief the Uttarakhand tragedy has reinforced their faith in the twin forces of Shiva and Shakti. Believers insist that nothing remains intact in Kedarnath save the shrine. The shivling remains crowned by offerings of belpatra.
Devotees blame the dis aster on the fact that the statue of Goddess Kali Dhari Devi in Kedarnath guardian deity of Uttara khand, was removed from her temple a day before the cloudburst. The shrine was being shifted for a hydel power project that now lies in ruins. A similar attempt in 1882 had resulted in landslide that had flattened Kedarnath.
Why pilots fly weather blind
Gaurav Talwar, Oct 20, 2022: The Times of India
DEHRADUN: The chopper tragedy in Kedarnath which killed seven people, including the pilot, has posed serious questions on the safety norms being followed by heli companies operating in the area. Helicopters of nine different companies make nearly 250 sorties daily in the region, ferrying thousands of pilgrims to the shrine and back. Surprisingly, it is all being done without the pilots having access to institutional weather forecasting support.
"Kedar valley has a complicated orography and it witnesses sudden development of clouds, especially dense cumulonimbus clouds. Like other airports and heliports, there should be a system of sharing of Met reports every half-an-hour with heli companies, which provide details of the weather, wind pattern and visibility," said Anand Sharma, former additional director general of India Meteorological Department. "The state government should on priority request IMD to set up a small temporary station to help the heli-service operators get round-the-clock weather information," he said.
The guidelines of the DGCA for commercial helicopter services clearly state that "a flight shall not commence unless it takes into account the meteorological conditions". Despite that, an IMD official told TOI, "Neither the state government nor the heli-service operators have sought any support from IMD for operation of choppers on the Char Dham yatra route."
Significantly, an airport or heliport has a dedicated space for a team of weather experts from IMD, which is supposed to provide accurate weather forecasts to the pilots before the take-off.However, that crucial aspect is missing in the helipads operational in the Kedar valley.
C Ravishankar, CEO of Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority which administers chopper operations on the Char Dham route, said, "Mostly, the pilots rely on satellite pictures available on the IMD website and weather apps like Google Weather and AccuWeather."
Incidentally, Met officials said the doppler radar in Tehri Garhwal district, which monitors weather data of Garhwal region, had "clearly showed development of bad weather in Rudraprayag, particularly over Kedar valley." Despite that, heli services continued to be operational in the area.
Gaurav Talwar, Oct 19, 2022: The Times of India
DEHRADUN: The helicopter disaster on Tuesday that left seven people dead on the Kedarnath route has come nine years after another fatal crash -- of the Indian Air Force (IAF) MI-17 in 2013 -- killed 20 in the same area.
During rescue operations following the 2013 Kedarnath floods, two choppers had crashed within the span of a month.
On June 25 that year, an IAF Mi-17 helicopter engaged in a rescue mission after the deadly deluge crashed, killing 20 people, including personnel belonging to IAF, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The incident happened near Gaurikund, less than 10km from Tuesday's accident site.
The IAF chopper was on its way to Guptkashi from Gauchar when it crashed north of Gaurikund. On July 24 the same year, a private chopper engaged in rescue met with an accident minutes after taking off from Kedarnath, killing pilot Jagjeet Singh Dhaliwal, 49, and the co-pilot, Abhay Ranjan, 42. Experts later blamed foggy conditions and zero-visibility for the accident.
Years later, on September 23, 2019, six pilgrims onboard a private helicopter had a narrow escape when the tail end of the chopper hit an object while making an emergency landing at the Kedarnath helipad soon after take-off (a similar brush with the ground led to Tuesday's crash). In May this year, a major tragedy was averted when a chopper belonging to 'Thumby Aviation' had a hard landing at Kedarnath. The Bell-407 helicopter bounced several times and turned about 270 degrees before landing safely on a helipad near the Kedarnath shrine. Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had ordered an enquiry into the incident. Experts had asked pilots to exercise caution whenever there are tailwinds, especially when heading for landing.
Priest takes Kedar idol to winter home
Yogesh Kumar | TNN
A Kedarnath temple priest kept tradition alive. Lord Shiva’s revered symbol at Kedarnath, the “bhog murti” must be fed daily in what’s called the akhand puja (unbroken worship).
Every winter, the idol is moved to Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath and returned to Kedarnath in May. Seeing no other option but to carry the idol to its winter abode,
The return of Dhara Devi
Locals believed that the removal of the idol on June 17 [??] 2013 by officials of the Alaknanda Hydropower Co was the trigger for the 2013 disaster. The idol has been brought back and is housed on an elevated temple. Dhari Devi’s idol was returned immediately after the disaster, on June 25. AGENCIES
2015: Priests relocated
The Times of India, Aug 14 2015
Take Rs. 16L each, leave Kedarnath: U'khand to priests
By offering a whopping relief package amounting to almost Rs 18 crore to around 110 families of purohits (priests) living in Kedarnath, the Uttarakhand government has ensured that they move out of the shrine town, and into “ecologically safer” areas.
Chief secretary Rakesh Sharma instructed the disaster management unit and Rudraprayag DM to immediately disburse an amount of Rs 16.6 lakh each to 50 purohit families for their re-location.A cumulative compensation of Rs 8 crore was paid to these families.
The settlement came after months of negotiations between the government and the priests, many of whom were reluctant to move but later agreed to shift out of what the government termed “catastrophe-prone“ areas. While many priests said they were satisfied with the compensation, a few claimed that they were reluctantly moving out.
The extent of tourist activities
2018: 7 lakh visitors
Kautilya Singh, 7L visit Kedarnath, highest in 4 decades, October 20, 2018: The Times of India
Over seven lakh devotees have visited Kedarnath till October 18, 2018, the highest footfall to the shrine in almost four decades as per state government officials. Till now, 7.07 lakh have visited the shrine this year.
Rudraprayag district magistrate Mangesh Ghildiyal told TOI, “We are pleased with the overwhelming response this year. This is the highest number from the time the data of pilgrims is available with us. We have records of the number of pilgrims since 1981. On tabulating the numbers, we found that this year has seen the maximum turnout.”
The highest number of tourists visiting the shrine before this was recorded in 2012 when 5.83 lakh pilgrims came to Kedarnath. Ghildiyal attributed the increase in numbers to “the efforts made by the Centre, the state government and the district administration to provide better facilities to the pilgrims”.
‘Footfall likely to touch the 7.25-lakh mark in next 20 days’
Through large-scale developmental work, we have been successful in sending a strong message on safety and better facilities for pilgrims. We have increased the platform of the temple, a better approach is being made and the boundary wall of the rivers Saraswati and Mandakini are also being made,” the DM said.
He added, “Our teams ensured that mule owners charge the right amount and proper medical facilities were available at regular intervals. This year, the number of complaints was also minimal.”
The doors of the shrine will close on November 9 on the occasion of Bhai Dooj. The authorities believe that in another 20 days, the pilgrim numbers may cross the 7.25-lakh mark. The shrine town has seen a continual increase in pilgrim footfall over the decades except a few years following the 2013 flash floods when arrivals dipped drastically.
2019/ Modi visit pushes record higher
Ishita Mishra, June 24, 2019: The Times of India
Breaking all records, over 7 lakh pilgrims visited Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand in the first 45 days of this year’s Char Dham Yatra. The number is the highest ever in the recorded history of the Himalayan shrine that witnessed the worst natural calamity in 2013 which claimed thousands of lives.
While around 7.32 lakh people visited the shrine during the six-month-long yatra in 2018, this year, the number has already touched 7.35 in the first 45 days. In fact, there were some days when the shrine recorded a footfall of over 36,000, which is also a first. The highest footfall was witnessed on June 7 when 36,179 devotees offered prayers in Kedarnath, followed by June 10, when 36,021 people visited the temple.
Authorities, meanwhile, said that the credit for such a high turnout goes to PM Modi, whose frequent visits to the temple have made people follow the same path.
CEO of Badri-Kedar Temple Committee BD Singh said, “We still have five more months to go. We are hopeful that this year footfall will cross 15 lakh by the end of the yatra in October.” BL Rana, general manager of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, also gave the credit for the high turnout to the PM. “Kedarnath is very close to the Prime Minister’s heart and he closely monitors all development works in the area. The demand for the meditation cave has also increased among the people after the PM’s visit,” he said.
According to official records, in 2013, around 3.33 lakh people visited Kedarnath and just after the flash floods, the number decreased to 40,922 in 2014. While, 1.54 lakh devotees visited the shrine in 2015, the number increased to 3.09 lakh in 2016. In 2017, 4.71 lakh pilgrims worshipped in the shrine and the number increased to 7.32 lakh in 2018.
Record 7.32 lakh number of pilgrims - around
Kedarnath sees record turnout, November 10, 2018: The Times of India
From the start of the yatra season till the closing of portals, a record number of pilgrims - around 7.32 lakh - offered obeisance at the shrine in 2018.
The ravages of tourism
Helicopters force schools to use soundproof glass windows
Sukanta Mukherjee, Why schools in Kedarnath are going soundproof, September 29, 2018: The Times of India
Noise From Choppers Headed For Shrine Disturb Students
Little Khushboo strains her eyes to look at the helicopter flying over her village Bhetsem at Narayankoti, situated around 45 km from Kedarnath. Till a few months ago, the whirring noise of the chopper would furrow the little girl’s brow. Not any more. She waves cheerily at the helicopter taking pilgrims to the Kedarnath shrine and then with a hop, skip and jump enters her newly-built classroom fitted with windows made of soundproof glass.
In one of the first such initiatives anywhere in the Uttarakhand hills, classrooms in nine government schools in Rudraprayag district — which falls on the route that choppers take to go to the Kedarnath shrine during the six-monthlong Char Dham Yatra — are being made soundproof by the heli-companies operating on these routes.
This comes after students of the government schools situated near Kedarnath at places like Phata, Guptkashi, Gaurikund, Sonprayag and Narayankoti complained that excessive noise from the choppers — which make at least 60 trips in a day — was drowning out their teachers’ voices and causing difficulties for them in concentrating on their lessons.
Taking cognisance of their concerns, the district administration of Rudraprayag approached the heli-companies to try and work out a solution. After several rounds of discussions, eventually the heli-companies decided to sponsor 18 soundproof rooms for the nine schools whose students are worst-affected. “It was a major problem for the children especially those whose schools are located near the helipads. The noise from the choppers was so deafening that students could not sit in class. We finally convinced the helicopter operators to build soundproof classrooms in these schools by allocating money for the project through their CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds,” says Mangesh Ghildiyal, district magistrate of Rudraprayag.
He adds that “currently, two classrooms in each of the nine schools are being made soundproof and more will be added next year.” “The cost for making each room soundproof is around Rs 1.5 lakh,”says Ghildiyal.
Representatives of the heli-companies say that they are taking care to ensure that students have no further cause for complaint. “In the classroom that we have built at the Government Primary School in Bhetsem, we have replaced the old windows and doors which were earlier made of wood with modern ones. In addition, we have rebuilt the roof adding two layers of concrete so that minimum noise from outside enters the room,” says Colonel V R Sharma, an official of Aryan Aviation, one of the heli-companies involved in the project.
Teachers, too, are relieved. “For the past few years, taking classes has been a cumbersome exercise. We had to shout to make ourselves heard since helicopters were flying past our school almost every hour,” says Sanjay Prasad, headmaster of Government Primary School, Sirsi.
At the primary school in Bhetsem — where Khushboo studies — students say they look forward to attending classes in the new classroom that was inaugurated a few days ago. Himanshu Kumar, a student of class V says with a shy smile that he “likes coming to school now.” “Earlier, I felt like running away from school as I couldn’t listen to what the teacher was saying. But the new classroom is nice. I feel like studying here.”
A government primary school in Rudraprayag’s Bhetsem village was among nine schools to get soundproof classrooms
Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand’s hills falls en route choppers take to reach the Kedarnath shrine during the six-monthlong Char Dham Yatra
Dhari Devi (Char Dham) A very important link
Uttarakhand: environment, ecology
Uttarakhand: Landslides, subsidence