Dehradun, May 7: Today the sacred portals of the world-renowned and much awaited Chardham yatra were opened. On the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya, Gangotri and Yamunotri Dhams have been opened for pilgrims. Gangotri Dham's sacred portal was opened at 11.30 in the morning whereas Yamunotri Dham portal at 1.15 in the afternoon. A large number of devotees was present to witness the grand opening of the shrines and offered pujas. The doors of Kedarnath and Badrinath will be opened on May 9 and 10 respectively.
Gangotri and Yamunotri temples are located in Uttarkashi district of the state and are two of the four sacred pilgrimage centres famously known as Chardham. The other two are Kedarnath and Badrinath. The government and the administration have made all necessary arrangements for the people coming on Chardham Yatra.
While the police department has finalised security plans for the yatra. The Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN), the nodal agency for the pilgrimage, has opened 16 booking counters for the registration of pilgrims and to help them book hotels and guesthouses. Besides, hi-tech medical facilities such as hyperbaric chamber (oxygen chambers), telemedicine and air-lifting at strategic locations will also be introduced. A brigade of around 30 specialised doctors will also be available during the yatra this year.
Over the past few years, the yatra has seen several deaths due to the extreme cold weather. Pilgrims have also complained that medical facilities are often inadequate in the shrine towns.
In order to address this problem, the health department has decided to set up telemedicine facilities in Kedarnath, Badrinath and Agastyamuni. Officials said that that in need of medical consultation will be able to get guidance from experts in Chandigarh and Delhi through telemedicine facility.
Giving more information, DG health Dr Ravindra Thapliyal said, "Provisions are being made so that patients with respiratory problems can be kept in hyperbaric oxygen chambers till the time they are stable. The hyperbaric chambers will be set up in Kedarnath and Badrinath and electronic blankets will also be made available."
Thapliyal added that advisories will be issued to elderly people for check-ups prior to the yatra. "Though we have a strong medical team with specialised doctors from across the country, we would still request those suffering from ailments to not take up the yatra."
A team of around 30 specialist doctors and 84 regular doctors of the health department have already been assigned duties. Other organisations are also being roped in by the state government for the smooth functioning of the yatra, officials of the health department said.