New Delhi: From a dismal solitary booking to 78 bookings -- the Rudra meditation cave in Kedarnath visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pre-booked for the first time, according to official figures.
For the first time since it was open to the public in 2018, tourists have booked it in advance -- 19 in September and 10 in October.
It was in May this year that Modi spent a day meditating at the Rudra Caves, barely a kilometre from the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand, in the final days of the general elections. The cave is maintained by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN).
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a brand ambassador for tourism in India. His presence is incredible and wherever he goes, he attracts attention. He is our biggest brand ambassador.
"The Rudra Caves which he visited earlier this year is attracting a deluge of tourists. This is great for tourism in the country. I am told that the Rudra Caves have received pre-bookings for the first time," Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel told PTI in an interview.
Immediately after Modi's visit, the caves received four bookings in the month of May, followed by 28 bookings in June, 10 in July, 8 in August, 19 in September and 10 in October.
"We are sure to get many more bookings for September and October till Diwali even when its is extremely cold. After that we will take bookings for May 2020," a senior official of GMVN said.
The caves can be booked for Rs 1500 for night stay and Rs 999 for stay between 6 am to 6 pm.
The official said that since the cave is located at a remote location and is meant to encourage meditation, only one person is allowed in the meditation cave at a time. Even though the cave offers complete isolation, a phone has been installed in the cave which can be used by the visitor in case of an emergency.
It has electricity and drinking water for guests, and also has attached toilet and heater. Guests will also get morning tea, breakfast, lunch, evening tea, and dinner. The timing of these meals can be changed according to their preference.
The cave also has a bell that can be used to call an attendant, as 24X7 staff has been deputed here for guests.