The Char Dham yatra this year has breached all previous records of pilgrim numbers, with a total of 44.7 lakh pilgrims participating in the journey to the revered shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri located in the Garhwal Himalayas.
Last year, the pilgrimage season saw 44.2 lakh devotees offering prayers at the four sacred sites. Also, for the first time, Kedarnath witnessed a higher turnout of devotees than Badrinath.
During the last pilgrimage season in 2022, Badrinath saw 17.6 lakh visitors while Kedarnath registered 15.6 lakh pilgrims. Yamunotri and Gangotri shrines received 4.8 lakh and 6.2 lakh pilgrims respectively. In addition, 2.4 lakh pilgrims offered prayers at Hemkund Sahib, the revered Sikh shrine situated near Badrinath.
This year, Yamunotri and Gangotri, both located in Uttarkashi district, have also seen a significant increase in visitors, with 6.7 lakh and 8.1 lakh pilgrims respectively. So far, 14.5 lakh have visited Badrinath, 15.3 lakh have visited Kedarnath, and another 1.69 lakh devotees have made their way to Hemkund Sahib.With approximately 50 days remaining for the yatra to conclude, authorities anticipate that the total number of pilgrims may well exceed the 50 lakh mark. Notably, after seeing a lull during the monsoon season, the Char Dham circuit now continues to attract around 40,000 pilgrims each day, as per officials.
Before 2022, the highest recorded number of pilgrims was 32.41 lakh in 2019. Subsequently, the yatra seasons in 2020 and 2021 were curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said, “Despite the challenges, we have strived to provide the best possible facilities to pilgrims. This encouraging response motivates us to continue improving.”
The Gangtori, Yamunotri and Kedarnath shrines will close around Diwali (November 12), while Badrinath usually closes around 20 days after the festival of lights. The official closing dates of the shrines though are yet to be announced.