Sikh pilgrims trek through a snow-flanked path en route to Hemkunt Sahib in Uttarakhand; and (below) toilets rendered useless in the absence of water.

Way to Hemkunt Sahib rough, but pilgrims remain unfazed

Joshimath, India: The 21-km pedestrian route from Gobind Ghat to Hemkunt Sahib, especially the last 3-km stretch from Atlakoti that cuts through 5-8 ft-high snow bed, is a rough patch. But this does not deter pilg rims, young and old alike, to make it to the shrine, which is situated at a height of 15,000 ft.

Despite the harrowing memories of last year, heavy snow in the area and a longer new track, about 3,000 pilgrims have already paid their obeisance at the shrine since May 25.

The PWD has successfully reopened t he route ( i ncl uding the last 3km snow-covered stretch) with the help of jawans from the Sikh regiment and sevadars. But the Jal Sansthan has not provided drinking water facility throughout the route.

The Sulabh Inter national has provided toilets on the way but they are rendered useless because of lack of water. However, JP Joshi, superintendent engineer, Jal Sansthan, is now planning to lay down plastic pipelines on the track for proper water supply.

For the time being, pilgrims would have to rely upon the Bhyundar river for water or carry their own supply.

After rescuing many pilgrims stranded during the calamity that hit the state last year, the government had decided to depute security personnel along the track, but only a few policemen could be seen at Ghangaria, while the whole track was left unattended.

Seva Singh, senior manager, Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara Management Committee, told HT that absence of drinking water facility and unkempt toilets added to the inconvenience of the pilgrims.

Source: HT

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