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.