New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Dehradun on Tuesday for a quiet sojourn during which he will pay obeisance at the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath and take part in a Ganga aarti at Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar.
The president began his visit to the hill state with the inauguration of the renovated ‘Rasthrapati Ashiana’, the President’s retreat in the city, refurbished with laying of new lawns, planting of hedges and ornamental plants comprising flowering trees and herbs.
Accompanied by Governor K K Paul and a host of senior officials, Mukherjee planted a Rudrakasha sapling in the Ashiana premises and then was shown around its renovated building built originally as bungalow of the Commandant of the President’s Bodyguard and being revived at Mukherjee’s initiative after long years of disuse.
K R Narayanan was the last president who stayed here in March 1998.
The commandant’s bungalow was built in 1920 and then renovated and redesignated as Rashtrapati Ashiana in 1975-76 to provide a suitable summer retreat to the then President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed as an alternative to Shimla.
Mukherjee who will stay at ‘Rashtrapati Ashiana’ for the entire duration of his visit will attend a dinner hosted by Governor K K Paul this evening where distinguished residents of the city have been invited.
He will go to Kedarnath on Wednesday morning at around 8.25 AM and will return to Dehradun in the afternoon.
The President will visit Haridwar on September 29 to witness its famous Ganga Arti before leaving for Delhi the same evening.
It will be Mukherjee’s first visit to Kedarnath after assuming office as the President and after the 2013 deluge which killed thousands of people besides inflicting largescale damage on areas adjoining the centuries old shrine tucked in the Himalayas.
Earlier in June this year, Mukherjee had to return without paying obeisance at the shrine when his helicopter could not land there due to bad weather.