Kedarnath Yatra 2019/ The New Kedarnath Trek
Before Starting Your Journey at Haridwar/Rishikesh - Registration:
If you are going on the Kedarnath yatra then you should plan it well in advance to avoid last minute delays. Earlier there was no per day limitation on the number of people visiting Kedarnath but after the June'13 disaster Govt had restricted the number of tourists going on the Kedarnath route to 1500 per day during Kedarnath yatra 2015. Govt is planning to open the registration for more than 5000 tourists per day for Kedarnath yatra 2019.
There are two ways to get registered for Chardham yatra and Kedarnath yatra. You can either do registration directly at the registration counters or through online registration (limited seats). The Government has made counters at public places like railway stations, market places, near the bus stand in Haridwar and also at the Chardham Yatra terminal in Rishikesh. This terminal in Rishikesh is located at the compound of ISBT ( Inter State Bus Terminal). You have to go to the counter with a photo id ( not mandatory). When you reach the counter you have to specify for which Yatra you are going - Chardham Yatra, Do Dham Yatra, Ek Dham yatra, etc. It is better if you tell them the exact dates on which you are planning to visit the temples. They take your photo with a webcam and issue a trip card. You have to carry this card throughout the journey.
When You Reach Guptkashi- Sitapur area/ Gaurikund to Kedarnath distance
Now for Kedarnath yatra you also have to obtain a medical fitness certificate. This certificate can be obtained from the medical centres at Guptkashi and Sonprayag. They check your blood pressure and inquire about your medical history. If you have any minor problems they give you medications for that. If there are big issues regarding your health then they won't allow you to go to Kedarnath ji by trek. Then you have to go to Kedarnath by helicopter.
These medical centres get very crowded in the mornings since all the pilgrims come to these counters in the morning before starting the trek. Many buses carrying villagers for Kedarnath yatra also reach these counters in the morning. So it is advisable to get your medical fitness certificate on the previous day. Otherwise, you will get late for your trek and you may also not be able to get ponies and palkis. There are many ponies and palkis available early in the morning during the peak yatra season in May and June. As the day proceeds the shortage of pony and palkis start. There are Government counters available for booking ponies and palkis at fixed rates.
Booking for Ponies/Palkis
If you want to hire a pony or palki for Kedarnath Yatra 2016 from Sonprayag, there are Govt counters available for booking them at fixed rates. Every year the Govt decides the rate and makes it available for tourists. For Kedarnath yatra 2015 the pony cost was Rs 1800/- per person (one way) from Sonprayag to Kedarnath ji and from Kedarnath ji to Sonprayag it was Rs 1400/-. The round trip cost was Rs 3200/-per person. A pony takes around 06 hrs to reach from Sonprayag to Kedarnath and around 04 hrs from Kedarnath to Sonprayag.
Going by trek ( Distances/Tourist Safety/Arrangements/Medical facility/SDRF)
At Sonprayag check post, the police check your medical certificate and registration card. If you are going by trek then you will get sharing jeeps up to Gaurikund which is 05 km away. The jeep charges Rs 20 per person. Gaurikund to Kedarnath distance is 16kms by trek. The distances from Gaurikund are as follows: Gaurikund to Jangal Chatti is 04 km, Gaurikund to Bheembali is 06 km, Gaurikund to Rambara is 07 km and Gaurikund to Kedarnath is 14 km. The trekking route for the first 07 km is gradual but after Rambara the trek is steep for the next 07 km. The trekking route for the last 03 km goes up and down gradually. A normal person takes around 07 hrs to reach Kedarnath from Gaurikund.
After the June '13 disaster, lots of people think that trekking on the Kedarnath route is very risky and unsafe. But this is untrue, the trek has become safer now. It is as safe as the trek to Vaishnodevi. In fact, Kedarnath Yatra 2015 was a huge success. There were very less arrangements for tourists before the disaster. The Govt had no idea that this type of devastation will occur and they were not ready to face the challenges.
The situation has completely changed now. The Govt handed over the charge of redevelopment of the Kedarnath new route 2015 to NIM ( Nehru Institute of Mountaineering) and the NIM has done a remarkable job in this area. They have repaired the 7 km trek from Gaurkiund to Rambara and made a new trek of 9 km from Rambara to Kedarnath. The trekking route is around 8 ft to 10 ft wide and it has an iron railing on the edge. They have made proper shelters for tourists to take rest after every 400-500 meters. They have also built emergency helipads at Gaurikund, JangalChatti (4kms), Bheembali (06kms), Lencholi (11 km), Kedarnath base Camp and 02 more helipads at Kedarnath ji.
There are medical facilities available at every halting place. There are several tea stalls, toilets, police stations and most importantly the govt has deployed SDRF personnel ( State disaster response force) on the trek. SDRF personnel patrol on the trekking route throughout the day and help tourists in an emergency. They are very helpful and sincere. The Govt had also made camps and fibre cottages at Lencholi, Badi Lencholi and Kedarnath base camp before the Kedarnath Yatra 2015 started, for an overnight stay. There are several offices of the sector magistrate on the way. All these arrangements make you feel safe, relaxed and comfortable.
Getting into Kedarnath
As you reach Kedarnath, the first thing you notice is the big commercial helipad. All the helicopters which operate from Guptkashi and Phata land here. The temple is just 500 mt from this place. Next to the helipad, there are camps and cottages made by NIM for overnight stay of tourists. There are some small hotels which are also safe and open in Kedarnath. They also provide rooms to the tourists. The NIM and GMVN serve fresh food at several points to tourists at nominal rates. If you are staying in the hotel, the owner serves food to their guests. In all around 5000 people can stay in Kedarnath per night and preparations are on for the accommodation of around 10000 people for Kedarnath yatra 2016.
Lots of redevelopment work is still going on the Kedarnath new route. The Govt is making ghats for bathing at the confluence of the Mandakini and Saraswati rivers. The Govt has built a safety wall behind the temple. JCB machines and labourers are continuously doing redevelopment work. With the help of JCB machines, all the rubble has been removed which had collected during the disaster. They have also made proper channels for the rivers Mandakini and Saraswati so that the water can flow away from the main town. There are small shops which sell pooja samagri and prasad. The pandits of Kedarnath ji are very helpful. When you go to visit the temple they make good arrangements for the pooja. You get transformed to another world when the pandits begin the chanting of mantras. It feels like an unearthly experience, as though Lord Shiva Himself is present inside the Sanctum of the Temple. It is an experience that one must revel in at least once in their lifetime.
The disaster that took place at Kedarnath happens once in hundreds of years. They are like earthquakes, they can occur in any place at any time. As of now, everything has been restored to normalcy. In fact, it is safer now than before. There is absolutely no need to worry about the Kedarnath Yatra 2019 as the Government is well prepared to handle the situation and to alert the pilgrims much in advance.
Kedarnath Yatra Video - How to go to Kedarnah from Gaurikund using New Trek - Click play button on banner to watch.