Kedarnath, May 9 (UNI): The holy portals of the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand's Rudraprayag district were thrown open for the public on Thursday.
Thousands of pilgrims, who were present there on the occasion, chanted Vedic hymns as the flower-decorated gates opened at 5:33 am.
The six-month-long Char Dham Yatra to the four sacred Hindu pilgrimage shrines in Garhwal Himalaya of Uttarakhand had begun on Tuesday on the day of Akshay Tritiya.
The Kedarnath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is situated at a height of 11,755 feet in Rudraprayag district. The Uttarakhand Government has made arrangement for nearly 3,000 pilgrims staying overnight at Kedarnath by setting up tents.
The area around Kedarnath temple premises continues to be surrounded by heavy snow. However, the path leading to the shrine has been cleared, Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee Chairman Mohan Lal Thapliyal said.
"From our side, all arrangements for the smooth conduct of the Yatra to Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines have been completed," said Thapliyal.
Several huts at Kedarnath were damaged in heavy snowfall during winters, with the government taking up the task to clearing the snow which piled up to a height of 15-20 feet and rebuilding the structures.
The four Himalayan shrines remain closed in October-November every year because of heavy snowfall and are reopened in April-May.
The doors Badrinath will open on Friday, May 10.
The Chardham pilgrimage is one of the biggest Yatra circuits in the world.
Lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country and across the globe come to the four divine destinations, namely, Badrinath (the abode of Lord Vishnu), Kedarnath (One of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lrd Shiva), Gangotri (the seat of deity Ganga) & Yamunotri (the dwelling place of the goddess Yamuna), all perched on high altitudes of the Himalaya in Garhwal division of Uttarakhand, to seek the blessings of deities.
In 2018, 26,21,375 pilgrims visited the state to pay their obeisance at the most venerated temples.
Though this year the Yatra has started late, the state administration hopes that the number of the Yatris coming to the state will exceed the number of the last year.
The state administration has made elaborate arrangements, including those of security, lodging and boarding, electricity, supply of drinking water, sanitation and medical facilities.
Ashok Kumar, director-general (law and order) of the state police, informed that temporary police stations and traffic police posts have been set up at all the demarcated locations.
“Green cards are being issued to the drivers of the vehicles plying on the Yatra routes, after checking the fitness of their vehicles, insurance cover and the driving licence. The officials on duty will ensure that vehicles are not over loaded with pilgrims and drivers do not indulge in rash driving and do not drive in drunken state”, said Mr Ashok Kumar.
The specially trained teams of the police and the state disaster response force (SDRF) have been stationed at landslide prone areas in order to clear debris at the earliest.
A special app called "uttarakhandtourism" has been launched to communicate advance information to the tourists regarding impending natural disasters and weather conditions received from satellites.
This year the Yatra has been made completely ecofriendly and ban has been imposed on carrying plastics and polythenes.
Photometric registrations are being done at Haridwar, Rishikesh and some other places to maintain database of the pilgrims coming on their holy mission.
Satpal Maharaj, the state minister for culture and tourism, said that they would do their best to make the six-month-long Yatra hassle free for the pilgrims.