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Garh Mukteswar in UP may host lakhs of pilgrims | India News

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MEERUT: The tiny town of Garh Mukteswar in Hapur district, about119-km from Delhi, is likely to host lakhs of kanwar pilgrims if the UP government comes good on its promise to allow the yatra. With Haridwar out of bounds after the Uttarakhand administration called off the pilgrimage for this year citing threat from the pandemic, Garh Mukteswar is slowly emerging as an alternative destination for the Shiva devotees.
The UP government, which had earlier requested Uttarakhand to let the pilgrims pass en route for Haridwar, from where they collect water from the Ganga, has asked all those participating in the yatra to carry a Covid-19 negative certificate. The yatra is likely to begin from July 25 unless there is a change of plans. Apart from UP, kanwariyas from Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and even Himachal take part in the yatra.
The administration, after mulling several alternatives, has zeroed in on the ancient town of Garh Mukteswar, which hosts pilgrims throughout the year. Divisional commissioner of Meerut, Surender Singh, told TOI, “We have already started preparations for the security and overall management. Now that Uttarakhand has cancelled it, we have to find another destination from where pilgrims can fetch Ganga water. For instance, devotees in eastern UP bring the holy water from Prayagraj and Varanasi. In the western region, one such site could be Garh Mukteshwar in Hapur. But our options are open and we are working in this direction.”
District magistrate of Hapur, Anuj Singh, said the administration will be able to hold the yatra in the town as the numbers will be less due to Covid. “The possibility of using Garh Mukteshwar ghats for the pilgrimage is being explored as religious fairs take place throughout the year here. One to two lakh pilgrims routinely visit the town during various melas. It is right that kanwar yatra is a big event, but due to the pandemic we don’t expect large gatherings,” he said. He added that directions have been given to observe Covid protocols. “The health department will put up help desks equipped with sanitisers, masks, thermal screening facility and testing on the route and at temples.”



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