Dehradun: The Trivendra Rawat government in Uttarakhand on Wednesday decided that a total of 51 temples, which fall in the Garhwal circuit, including the shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath, will be governed by the Char Dham Shrine Board.
The shrine board will be constituted on the lines of Vashno Devi and Tirupati Shrine Boards with an idea for providing better facilities to the pilgrims, said an official privy to the development.
“A Bill (on shrine board) will be tabled in the House in the upcoming winter session,” said the official, soon after the state cabinet gave its nod. The Bill, once cleared, will be sent to the governor for promulgation. The idea of having the Char Dham Shrine Board has been discussed for a while.
The official said the board will help pool in resources and better management of the major shrines of Uttarakhand. The shrines and temples that will be governed by the suggested board include Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamnotri, Gangotri, Trijuginarayan and Vishwnath temple among others.
Mohan Prasad Thapliyal, chairman of the Badri Kedar Temple Committee (BKTC), that presently administers the four shrines (char dhams), welcomed the move and hoped the pilgrims will be benefited the most.
“BKTC annually earns to the tune of Rs 12 crores from the offerings of pilgrims. We are sure the constitution of shrine will help in better management and distribution of assets,” Thapliyal said.
Meanwhile, a section of priests expressed resentment over the fact that they were not consulted. Suresh Semwal, chairman of the Gangotri Temple Committee said he and other priests had studied the shrine board provisions and they had some suggestions to make. “But before we could have our say, the cabinet gave its nod,” he added.
This year 3.4 million pilgrims visited the char dhams, which remain open for six months in a year. Hundreds of priests and thousands of businessmen depend on the pilgrim rush that is witnessed during summers. After the Himalayan floods in 2013 the numbers of pilgrims dwindled but this year it grew to an all-time high.