Dehradun, May 7 (IANS) Amid chanting of Vedic hymns and other religious rituals, the portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri temples were thrown open for pilgrims on Tuesday, heralding beginning of the ‘Chardham Yatra’, the six-month-long pilgrimage to four prominent Hindu shrines in the Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakahand.
Earlier in the morning, palanquins carrying idols of goddesses Gangotri and Yamunotri reached their respective temples in Uttarkashi district on the auspicious occasion of ‘Akshay Tritiya’ and were installed in the sanctum sanctorum amid hymns by the chief priests.
During the winter, the idol of Gangotri is kept at Mukhba temple and that of Yamunotri in Kharsali temple.
Military bands played religious tunes while a large number of pilgrims chanted “Har Har Gange” and other religious slogans and some took holy dips in the Bhagirathi and Yamuna rivers.
The portals of two other top Hindu shrines — Kedarnath and Badrinath — will be thrown open for pilgrims on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
Though there is still heavy snow in the Kedarnath temple premises, the path leading to the shrine has been cleared, Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee Chairman Mohan Lal Thapliyal said.
After a large number of huts at Kedarnath, situated at the dizzying heights of 11,755 feet in Rudraprayag district, were damaged in heavy snowfall in January-February, the government had taken up the task to clearing the snow which piled up to a height of 15-20 feet and rebuilding the structures.
The government has made arrangement for nearly 3000 pilgrims staying over night at Kedarnath by setting up tents.
While most of the snow has already melted, but there is still 4-5 feet of snow at Kedarnath which the pilgrims can enjoy.
“From our side, all arrangements for the smooth conduct of the yatra to Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines have been completed,” said Thapliyal.
However, the road leading to Yamunotri shrine in Uttarkashi district is still in bad shape with the repair work on a vital bridge still in progress.
“We are hopeful that all the reconstruction works will be completed by May 7,” District Magistrate Ashish Chauhan said. There is no issue pending as far as Gangotri shrine is concerned, he added.
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat assured a successful pilgrimage to the four shrines. “Uttarakhand is ready to welcome the pilgrims coming for the Chardham yatra. Security and various other amenities for pilgrims will be taken care of,” he said.