Poor preparation and bad weather saved the Uttarakhand government a catastrophe as it forced a major chunk of pilgrims to abandon the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra midway at Bedni in the Chamoli district.
Monday saw over 50,000 pilgrims return, while only 8,000 opted to undertake the arduous trek for Patar Nachoniya, located at an altitude of 3,650 metres above sea level.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat had a tough task at hand after a record 60,000 participants reached Bedni instead of the anticipated 50,000.
Averting disaster: Bad weather forced a major chunk of pilgrims to abandon the Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra midway at Bedni in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand
Mohan Singh, a native of Tharali said: “I had passed the medical test but I decided to return after the heavy rainfall. We stayed in the open under our umbrella after a wet Sunday night.”
“The state government makes huge claims of elaborated arrangements in television commercials but on ground nothing exists,” said another villager.
The Yatra is hosted every twelfth year and is presently underway in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district.
“The number is now manageable and I am thankful to people for accepting my appeal to withdraw their Yatra. They retreated on their own,” said CM Rawat.
Dr Mahesh Bhatt from Uttarkashi said: “I had no plans to go beyond Bedni, but many were keen. It began pouring at 11am on Sunday and continued late till 6pm.”
The Yatra resumed from Nauti on August 18 and proceeded to an extremely remote location with no habitat at all from August 30.
The procession arrived at Geroli Patel two days back and at Bedni on Sunday. In both these places the pilgrims had to face a tough time procuring food and accommodation.