From nearly 500 pilgrims visiting the shrine every day on foot in the initial days, the number has jumped to 1,100 per day ever since the chopper services were launched on May 20, Rudraprayag District Magistrate Raghav Langar said.

Four private chopper companies, including Himalayan Heli Service, UT Air, Aryan and Pawanhans, are making 10-12 sorties between Linchauli and Kedarnath every day to ferry devotees to the high altitude temple, he said.

More private chopper companies are likely to be roped in if the weather remains pleasant as it is now and the pressure of visitors increases, the DM said.

Chardham yatra began on a low key on May 2 this year with a limited number of devotees visiting the four Himalayan shrines of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath initially.

It could not pick up and had to be temporarily suspended due to snowfall in the higher reaches of Garhwal Himalayas and rains in the plains.

"Bad weather was a principal deterrent which is no longer the case now. Moreover, the condition of roads has also improved attracting more and more people to Kedarnath," he said.

The PWD and NIM personnel are working day and night on the surface routes whose condition will further improve in the days to come encouraging more and more people to undertake the yatra, he said.

However, there is also an effort to keep the number of daily visitors to the shrine limited so that there is no accommodation problem, he said.

There has been a rise in the number of devotees visiting Gangotri, Yamunotri and Badrinath shrines as well, with 5,166 pilgrims visiting these shrines on Wednesday.


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