DEHRADUN: Char Dham Yatra might be opened to devotees outside Uttarakhand from September, according to state government officials.
At present, only residents of Uttarakhand are allowed to visit Chardham - the four revered shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri.
Ravinath Raman, the chief executive of Char Dham Devsthanam Board said, "We are contemplating to allow devotees from other states with Covid negative reports for a 72-hour visit to the state."
The official also added that the standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding this will be issued in a day or two. To date, over 20,000 passes have been issued to pilgrims from Uttarakhand to visit Char Dham.
On July 20, the state government has started online booking of 'Prasadam' of Lord Kedarnath to cater to the devotees. Any devotee who wants Prasadam can book for it on www.onlineprasad.com and get delivered at his home for Rs 451.
The state government has also put a restriction on the number of pilgrims visiting every shrine per day. The number has been fixed at 800 for Kedarnath, 1200 for Badrinath, 600 for Gangotri, and 400 for Yamunotri. The SOP mentioned that every pilgrim must carry identification and address proof.
The SOP, announced by the state government on June 29 for Chardham, includes permission to only Uttarakhand residents who need to register themselves and get an e-pass validated for two days.
However, the duration can be increased in case of natural calamities such as landslides and heavy rain.
Anyone from the containment zone or buffer zone, however, is not be allowed to travel to any of the four shrines, according to the SOP.
The SOP also includes prohibition on entering the sanctum sanctorum of the shrines, touching of the idol of any deity, and bringing offerings such as flowers or sweets.
Last year, more than 38 lakh pilgrims visited the revered four shrines of the hill state.
According to stakeholders in the tourism industry and religious tourism, a loss of whopping Rs 1100 crore has been incurred due to the cancellation of Kanwar Yatra and Char Dham pilgrimage.