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Chardhams tourist season to begin soon

April 26, 2006 13:02 IST

The doors of Gangotri and Yamunotri will be thrown open to pilgrims on April 30. Pilgrims wanting to have darshan of Bhagwan Badrinath and Kedarnath would have to wait till May 4 when the doors of these two important Hindu shrines would also be flung open for devotees thereby marking the beginning of the tourist season not just to the Chardhams, but also to other parts of the state.

The holiest Sikh Shrine of Hemkund Sahib would be reopened to Sikh pilgrims on June 5. All the five shrines had been closed in October/November 2005 because of the onset of winter in this region.

While the small townships along the route of these shrines are eagerly looking forward to the tourist season, the twin townships of Dehradun and Mussoorie are also gearing up to meet the tourist rush for next two months.

"Though Mussoorie and Dehradun have tourists almost round the year, the actual season begins in May and ends on July 15," said Ashok Aggarwal, a local tourist guide.

"There are over 300 hotels in the hill resort which can accomodate 6,000 tourists a day. Besides that, we have 200 guesthouses to suit the pockets of those who cannot afford hotel accomodation. During the month of June, the city is hit with the shortage of water and then we have to press in water tankers to meet the water needs," said the owner of a hotel.

The season also brings in work for the cycle rickshaw pullers and horse owners.

"The handcart is now banned in Mussoorie and this has been replaced by cycle rickshaws. We have about 150 horse owners who bring their horses for providing rides to the tourists. The trolley to Gunhill on the Mall road is the biggest attraction of tourists and fetches a lot of money. Another ropeway at the Kempty Falls has helped in increasing the money collection for Gharwal Vikas Mandal Nigam and it has also lessened the effort involved in going down to the bottom of the falls," said Anil Pandi, who is building a five star hotel in Mussoorie in collaboration with a firm in Ludhiana.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi