The hardy mules operating on the Char Dham route which are popular with pilgrims have earned more than helicopters that flew devotees to the sacred shrines this year.
The earnings of mules have been recorded at Rs 82.4 crore which is 46 per cent higher than the Rs 56.4 crore earned by helicopter services so far, according to a Times of India report.
Last year, too, mules earned Rs 101 crore while helicopter companies earned Rs 75 crore during the Kedarnath Yatra.
According to official figures, a total of 6,933 mules are registered with the Rudraprayag district administration and another 1,000 have been authorized to carry goods. Officials say that most of the pilgrims prefer to climb up to the temple by mule only. This year, about 1.8 lakh pilgrims from Sonprayag and Gaurikund have reached Kedarnath Dham on mules, earning the operators about Rs 54.8 crore. Around 1.34 lakh pilgrims made bookings for the return journey, generating a revenue of Rs 27.5 crore.
The bad weather has affected helicopter services as it is not considered safe to fly during heavy rain and gusting winds. Mules, apart from being more affordable, are capable of braving rough weather and can be used both for ferrying pilgrims and carrying provisions even in rough weather conditions.
This year around 30 lakh pilgrims came for the Char Dham yatra but only 10.3 lakh devotees reached Kedarnath Dham. This was because patches of harsh weather led to limiting the trip of many devotees due to safety reasons in the difficult terrain