Yatra to Kedarnath was halted today following fresh snowfall at the famous Himalayan shrine and adjoining areas which bore the brunt of last year's calamity. "The entire Kedar valley received fresh snowfall since early this morning bringing the pilgrimage to a halt," Rudraprayag Superintendent of Police Barinderjit Singh told PTI.
The devotees have been asked to stay in Sonprayag and wait for the weather to clear up when the pilgrimage may be resumed, he said. Yatra to Kedarnath had begun on May 4 after its portals were reopened for devotees after a six-month winter break when the area remains snowbound. Renowned Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj, who was scheduled to perform live at the high altitude shrine today is still in Dehradun as his chopper could not take off for Kedarnath due to overcast and low visibility conditions in the city and snowfall in the hills, Tourism Secretary Umakant Panwar said.
The maestro may perform at the shrine tomorrow if the weather permits, he said. However, that seems unlikely with the MeT office here predicting moderate thundershowers on the Char Dham (Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri and Kedarnath) route and snowfall at places located above 3500 metres for the next three days. Moderate thundershowers, isolated hailstorms and squalls coupled with snowfall in the higher reaches especially at places beyond 3500 metres are likely to continue till May 13, MeT office Director Anand Sharma said.
The annual pilgrimage was struck by the unprecedented flash floods last year causing large-scale loss of lives and property. Over 5,000 people were dead or missing, including pilgrims from various parts of the country.