Kick started in August, the online booking service received an overwhelming response. Over 1000 pilgrims reportedly used the portal to book the chopper service. The second phase of the helicopter services will begin September 1, 2019 onward. The CEO of UCADA (Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority and Tourism), Dilip Jawalkar stated that this new online platform will reduce corruption and bring transparency to the process. Further, he added that while 70 percent of the tickets will be booked online, on the spot booking will be available for the remaining 30 percent. Offline booking centers have been set up at Phata and Guptkashi to make the offline booking process hassle free.
Earlier, individual aviation companies allowed booking of tickets through their websites. During the first phase of the yatra this year, the issue of black ticket marketing resurfaced. It was found that several cases were registered against private aviation companies providing services to the shrine. Against aviation companies and alleged agents, as many as seven cases were registered. Such issues will be easily resolved with the help of the online portal. Additionally, it will add to the convenience of booking helicopter services for the pilgrims.
Kedarnath by HelicopterThere is no road access available to the temple and it can only be reached through a tough, uphill 18 km long trek which starts from Gaurikund. Kedarnath is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrim sites and earlier completing a journey to the sacred temple was considered no less than an accomplishment for the religiously inclined.
However, the tough journey is now much simpler because of the daily helicopter service which plies from the helipad in Phata village in Kedarnath. Some operators also offer a helicopter service from the town of Agustmuni in Rudraprayag.
Devotees can visit Kedarnath temple and return the same day as helicopter service plies at regular intervals from Phata and Agustmuni helipads. 5-seater helicopters are operated by different tour companies.
TimingsThe last helicopter back to Phata leaves at 11:10 AM and those who wish to have an overnight stay at Kedarnath can choose to take this flight the next day. Even with a same-day return flight, devotees get around 1:30 hours for darshan in the temple.
Accommodation options are available at both Phata and Kedarnath.
Cost for a round trip from Phata-Kedarnath-Phata comes to INR 6500 per person with extra applicable taxes. One way helicopter rides can also be booked subject to seat availability. A one-way ticket costs between INR 3,000 to INR 3,500 with applicable taxes.
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