Thousands braved biting cold to visit Kedarnath on Thursday morning as portals of the famous Himalayan shrine were reopened for devotees after the six-month winter break.
With the reopening of the temple gates, devotees from across the country and abroad can now pay obeisance for the next six months at the shrine located along the banks of the Mandakini at a height of 12000 feet above sea level.
The chief priest of the shrine Rawal Bhimashankar Ling opened the gates of the temple at 5.35 am amid chanting of vedic hymns after conducting all rituals, Shri Badrinath-Kedarnath Mandir Samiti CEO BD Singh said.
“Despite biting cold prevailing at the high altitude temple around 2,500 devotees witnessed the opening ceremony”, he said.
Several distinguished people, including Uttarakhand Governor Baby Rani Maurya and former chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, were among thousands of pilgrims who thronged the temple on the opening day to offer prayers to the presiding deity Lord Shiva.
The chardham yatra has begun already with gates of Gangotri and Yamunotri having opened on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya on May 7.
The fourth temple of the char dhams Badrinath, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, will be opened tomorrow.
The start of chardham yatra in April-May is eagerly awaited by people in Uttarakhand as it is the backbone of the economy of the hilly region of the state with a large number of locals depending for their livelihood on lakhs of tourists who visit the state during the yatra season.
The chardham Yatra comes to a close in October-November every year for nearly six months as the hills of Garhwal remain under snow during the period.
(With inputs from PTI)