FAQ: Char Dham Opens to Pilgrims – Who Can Visit? What New SOPs?

Here’s all you need to know about visiting Char Dham during the coronavirus pandemic.

Published10 Jun 2020, 10:49 AM IST
3 min read

The four Himalayan pilgrimage shrines – Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath – collectively called Char Dham has opened its doors to devotees, as a part of Unlock 1.0. The pilgrimage expects an annual footfall of 25 lakh devotees every year.

While the Centre has issued a set of guidelines for the places of worship to follow, here’s what you need to know if you are visiting Char Dham.

Who will be allowed to visit Char Dham?

  • Persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay home.
  • Pilgrims from containment zones will not be allowed to enter.

I live in another state but want to visit Char Dham in Uttarakhand. Can I undertake inter-state travel?

No, you will not be allowed entry till 30 June. Char Dham Yatra for non-Uttarakhand devotees has been put on hold by the temple management board due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Is there a limit on the number of people who will be allowed inside these temples?

A total of 1,200 local pilgrims per day would be allowed to Badrinath, 800 to Kedarnath, 600 to Gangotri and 400 to Yamunotri shrine.

A maximum of 80 pilgrims will be allowed in an hour inside Kedarnath temple premises, while 120 pilgrims will be allowed at the Badrinath shrine.

Can I visit the temple at any time of the day?

  • Pilgrims will be alllowed entry into the temple only from 7 am to 7 pm.
  • They will have to collect a token at the entry of the darshan site.
  • The time of the darshan will be mentioned on it
  • They will then proceed and wait in the designated queue for entry into the temple.
  • This is to ensure staggered entry.

What precautions should be taken by devotees while visiting Char Dham?

  • All persons to be allowed entry only if using face covers/masks
  • Footwear to be preferably taken off inside own vehicle.
  • If needed they should be kept in separate slots for each individual/family by themselves.
  • Maintain physical distancing of a minimum of 6 feet at all times when queuing up for entry.
  • People should wash their hands and feet with soap and water before entering the premises.
  • Seating arrangements to be made in such a way that adequate social distancing is maintained.
  • Devotees are not allowed to touch statues, idols or holy books etc.
  • Common prayer mats should be avoided and devotees should bring their own prayer mats or pieces of cloth, which they may take back with them.

Will Char Dham shrines continue to offer prasad?

Physical offerings like prasad distribution or sprinkling of holy water, etc will not be allowed inside the religious place.

What precautions should be taken by religious places amid the pandemic?

  • Devotees have to be provided with hand sanitizer and thermal screening provisions
  • Staggering of visitors to be done, whenever possible.
  • Any shops, stalls, cafeteria, etc, outside and within the premises shall follow social distancing norms at all times.
  • Specific markings may be made with sufficient distance to manage the queue and ensure social distancing in the premises.
  • Preferably separate entry and exits for visitors shall be organised.
  • In view of the potential threat of the spread of infection, as far as feasible recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed.
  • Community kitchens/langars /“Ann-daan”, etc at religious places should follow physical distancing norms while preparing and distributing food.

(With inputs from PTI, IANS)

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