Char Dham trip to get longer and costlier

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Dehra Dun, May 1 (UNI) A trip to the four most-holy pilgrimages in Uttarakhand -- the Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, collectively referred to as the Char Dham, will now be costlier and longer.

The state's yatra season begins this month when the Yamnotri and Gangotri routes open on May 7 while the Kedarnath and Badrinath routes open on May 9.

With the period of the yatra extended by ten days, a pilgrim will have to complete his visit to three shrines at least in eight days, two shrines in six days and one shrine in four days, Chairman of the Char Dham Yatra Suratram Naudiyal informed the press today.

Pilgrims availing the facilities of buses, horses or dolis will now have to cough up Rs 10 against the old rate of Rs 5, Mr Naudiyal said, adding that they would now be pre-paid services.

He said the pilgrimage period had been extended to address the safety concerns of passengers and prevent accidents, while higher rental charges were a result of increasing price rise.

The tourism police would be stationed along the four yatra routes and act as guides to provide assistance to pilgrims, he said, adding that clean bathrooms and trauma centres had been set up in 145 places.

He said helicopter services to Kedarnath were operational and plans to make it available to the other three places were underway.

This year, an estimated 2.21 crore tourists are expected to visit the state. Last year, 3.5 crore tourists (both foreign and domestic) visited the state.

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