Last Updated: May 17, 2023, 19:49 IST
The gates of Kedarnath Dham were opened on April 25.
Under the newly adopted flexi fare model for helicopter services, the fare between Guptkashi and the Kedarnath Dham has increased from Rs 7,740 to Rs 11,800 per passenger.
In a groundbreaking move, the Kedarnath Helicopter Service, known as Kedarnath Heli Seva, has implemented a flexi fare system for religious pilgrimages, marking the first such initiative by the Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA). Following the successful implementation of the flexi fare model by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) in railway services, the same system has now been extended to helicopter bookings for the Kedarnath Dham.
Under the newly adopted flexi fare model, pilgrims who make last-minute bookings will be required to pay higher fares. As a result, the fare between Guptkashi and the Kedarnath Dham has increased from Rs 7,740 to Rs 11,800 per passenger, representing a significant increase of around Rs 4,000.
The introduction of the flexi fare system for helicopter services comes in response to complaints of ticket black marketing in the past. The UCADA aims to deter unauthorised collection from individuals who arrive without prior bookings, ensuring a fair and transparent process for all pilgrims. Notably, the Char Dham Yatra commenced on April 22, with the gates of Kedarnath Dham opening on April 25, coinciding with the inauguration of helicopter services.
For the first time, the responsibility of booking Kedarnath helicopter tickets has been entrusted to IRCTC by UCADA. Pilgrims can now book their tickets conveniently through the heliyatra.irctc.co.in website, which was launched by IRCTC specifically for this purpose. The tickets for the Kedarnath helicopter service were fully booked by April 30, despite some initial technical issues on the website that were subsequently resolved.
It’s important to note that the flexi fare policy was initially implemented by the Indian Railways for its premium category high-speed trains. Introduced on September 9, 2016, the system has been applied to Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains across the country. Under this system, the base fare increases by 10% for every 10% of seats sold within the prescribed limit. While the railway discontinued the flexi fare system for 15 trains last year, it remains applicable to approximately 100 trains, ensuring variable fares based on demand.
With the successful implementation of the flexi fare system for helicopter services, the UCADA and IRCTC are taking a significant step towards streamlining and securing bookings for religious pilgrimages. This move will enhance the overall experience for pilgrims and curb unfair practices, ultimately ensuring a smoother journey for all devotees visiting Kedarnath Dham.