With heavy rocks and boulders from a hillside blocking Badrinath highway between Joshimath and Vishnuprayag, devotees bound for the Sikh shrine of Hemkunt Sahib and those returning from there have had to take shelter at different places.
More than 5,000 pilgrims who had left for Hemkunt Sahib have been stopped at Ghanghariya, whereas another nearly 1,200 bound for the Sikh shrine have been asked to stay in Gobindghat, Chamoli district disaster managament officer Nandkishore Joshi has said here on Friday. Just a day after monsoon arrived in Uttarakhand, heavy rain damaged roads and bridges in the two districts on Thursday, affecting the Char Dham yatra and restricting the movement of thousands of pilgrims bound for the Himalayan shrines.
The Char Dham and Hemkunt and Mansarovar pilgrimage routes are blocked at many points because of landslides during the downpour. The fourth batch of Mansarovar pilgrims has been stopped at Dharchula because of heavy rain continuing there, Pithoragarh district magistrate Sushil Kumar Sharma has said.
While a vital motor bridge between Sonprayag and Gaurikund was washed away on Thursday evening, the Badrinath highway remained blocked for the second consecutive day at four points, leaving more than 9,000 pilgrims stranded at Badrinath, Hanumanchatti, Pandukeshwar, Gobindghat and Ghanghariya.
On Friday, helicopters were flown to the affected areas with a team of senior officials to assess conditions and ensure the safety of Char Dham pilgrims.
Due to frequent spells of rain which have lashed all parts of Uttarakhand ever since monsoon officially arrived in the hill state, Char Dham yatra at Kedarnath, Badrinath and Hemkund Sahib was affected on Friday. SDRF teams have left for Hemkund Sahib after the alert was issued. Evacuation efforts are underway to rescue the pilgrims with about a thousand of them stranded en-route to Kedarnath. Heavy water flow in Uttarakhand’s Alaknanda River due to rainfall has resulted in a flood-like situation. In Sonprayag a bridge connecting the area to Gaurikund was washed away halting road traffic. Flash floods had ravaged parts of Uttarakhand claiming over 5000 lives in 2013.