Chamba: The procession of the holy mace of Lord Shiva during the Manimahesh pilgrimage started from here Monday amidst beating of drums and playing of `shehnais`.
"The procession of the `Charri Yatra` (holy mace procession) started from the 1,000-year-old Lakshmi Narayan temple in Chamba town," Additional District Magistrate Neeraj Kumar told reporters.
It would reach Manimahesh Lake on Radhashthmi, the birth day of Krishna`s consort Radha, Sep 5, when more than one lakh devotees are expected to take a dip in the oval-shaped, glacier-fed holy Manimahesh Lake.
The 15-day Manimahesh pilgrimage in the interiors of Chamba district officially began Aug 22.
Kumar said more than three lakh people have undertaken the pilgrimage to the Manimahesh Lake so far.
Every year, devotees undertake an arduous 14-km trek from the Hadsar base camp, some 65 km from here, to the lake from where they can see Mount Kailash, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, and offer prayers.
It`s believed that the devotees can have a view of the Mount Kailash only if the lord is pleased. When the peak is hidden behind clouds, it is a sign of the lord`s unhappiness, the believers say.
The state government has also allowed private heli-taxi operators to ferry people during the pilgrimage.
The choppers ferry devotees between Bharmour town, known for `chaurasi` or 84 Hindu temples, and Gauri Kund, just one km short of the lake. The to-and-fro fare per person is Rs.7,500.
According to organisers, four people have lost their lives during the pilgrimage. Two pilgrims died when they were hit by rolling boulders.