Gopeshwar: Devotees sporting colourful attires thronged Nauti village in Chamoli district on Monday as `Nandadevi Raj Jat Yatra` also known as the `Himalayan Kumbh` got off to a ceremonious start with procession of pilgrims led by a four horned sheep left for their first halt at Eeda Badhani.
The elaborate ceremony which precedes the yatra took place at the ancient temple of Nandadevi located right in the middle of Nauti village in the presence of the Kunwars (members of the royal family) of Kansuva, Uttarakhand Governor Aziz Qureshi, state finance minister Indira Hridayesh and Uttarakhand Assembly Deputy Speaker Anusuya Prasad Maikhuri.
The golden idol of Nandadevi brought by the Kunwars of Kansuva was placed under the Raj Chatoli.
The four-horned sheep followed by the Raj Chatoli led the procession as thousands embarked on the journey through pathways tearing through verdant jungles on a clear day.
Devotees began to converge early this morning at Nauti village about 25 km from Karnaprayag on Badrinath national highway to witness the ceremonial opening of the yatra?held every 12 years through the picturesque and difficult hill districts of the state.
The pilgrimage covers a distance of 280 kms which is traversed by pilgrims from across the country and abroad in 19 days during which they halt at 19 identified points.
The Jaat (Yatra) will go up to the heights of Roopkund and Homekund with a four horned sheep.
After the havan - yagna is over, the sheep will be released into the wild with ornaments, food and clothings.
According to legend, the procession accompanies Nanda Devi, the consort of Lord Shiva as she leaves her village for nanda devi parbat to be with the lord.