Massage facilities will be introduced for pilgrims along the 16-km trek route from Gaurikund to Kedarnath in Uttarakhand from next year, an official said.
"We have decided to set up seven massage centres along the uphill trek to the shrine from the next season to help pilgrims overcome fatigue during the journey," Rudraprayag District Magistrate Mangesh Ghildiyal told PTI.
These centres, equipped with massage chairs, will be set up at the main halts -- Bheembali, Lincholi, Rudra point and Junglechatti -- along the uphill trek to the famed shrine, he said.
The decision is part of the state government's efforts to introduce additional facilities for pilgrims en route to Kedarnath and enrich their experience of visiting the shrine, Ghildiyal said.
It will also help to generate employment opportunities for local youths, he added.
Over 10 lakh pilgrims visited Kedarnath this year before it closed for the winter season on October 29, breaking all past records and the credit goes to the improved facilities on the route, the District Magistrate said.
He said the number of pilgrims is expected to go up further in the years to come.
As a safety measure, the district administration has also decided to make it mandatory for pilgrims going on mules and ponies from Gaurikund to the shrine to wear helmets, he said.
The mule and pony operators will also have to wear helmets along the trek to Kedarnath, Ghildiyal added.
The measure is being introduced as a safeguard against pebbles and boulders frequently falling from the hills following landslides during the yatra season, he said.
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