The Uttarakhand government has announced plans to upgrade the Sikh shrine Hemkunt Shrine as the fifth major pilgrimage centre in the state, after Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
The chief minister Harish Rawat said that, as Hemkunt Sahib currently draws over a lakh pilgrims every season, upgrading it to a major shrine will be a boost for religious tourism in the state.
It was reported that although strategies to equip the shrine with all the facilities and arrangements needed by Sikh devotees are yet to be chalked out, it is most likely to be re-developed on the lines of Char Dham shrines.
“If the facilities currently being given to over 6.50 lakh Char Dham pilgrims are made available to devotees at Hemkunt Sahib, it will help increase their strength many times,” he remarked.
Giving details of the plan to upgrade the shrine, Rawat said he has instructed senior civil aviation department authorities to build a helipad within a fortnight.
“We have already connected all the major Char Dham shrines with regular helicopter services during the last one year and the process to build a helipad at Hemkunt Sahib has begun,” the chief minister added.
Officials in the state tourism department told TOI that, apart from Sikh devotees, tourists trekking to the Valley of Flowers and other neighboring spots can also use the helicopter services to reach Hemkunt Sahib.
Rawat also announced plans to connect the shrine by ropeway from Govind Ghat in Chamoli district, within the next six to eight months. “There is already a move to build a motorable road connecting two other famous Sikh shrines — Reetha Sahib (in Champawat district) with Nanakmatta (in Udham Singh Nagar district) — within the next four months,” the chief minister said, adding that the pilgrimage to Hemkunt Sahib would be included in the state-sponsored ‘Mera Buzurg Mera Tirath’ scheme, for elderly couples on pilgrimage.
~ Source: TimesofIndia