Zee Media Bureau
Dehradun: A year after the famous Kedarnath temple, which was marred by massive flash floods that had left hundreds of people dead and many others stranded, re-opened on Sunday.
According to news reports, the region is facing moderate rainfall today. As per the Met department this kind of weather may persist for next two-three days.
“Chief priest of the shrine (Rawal) Bhima Shankar Ling presided over the rituals as its gates were opened amid chanting of vedic hymns,” Badrinath-Kedarnath temple committee CEO VD Singh said.
About 1,252 devotees including eight foreign nationals visited the shrine on the opening day, he said.
Expressing happiness over the first day turnout, Singh said it was much more than their expectations.
"The crowd was bigger than expected and there was much enthusiasm among the devotees. It is an indication that the fear psychosis gripping people outside the state in the wake of last years tragedy is subsiding gradually.
The crowd of visitors is likely to swell as the snow begins to melt," he said.
Arrangements for a round-the-clock langar have been made by the temple committee near the shrine to cater to visitors.
Makeshift tents have been pitched at several places en route to the temple to accommodate more than a thousand people.
There are enough food supplies available, he said.
However, Pandit Jasraj, who was to perform live at the shrine on its opening day could not come, he said.
Tourism and Culture Secretary Umakant Panwar said the Indian classical vocalist had to cancel his programme yesterday as it was unsafe for him to fly in a chopper to the high altitude shrine which is still clogged with snow.
Last year, the famous Kedarnath shrine was virtually submerged in mud and slush where thousands of people had died in the flash floods.
The shrine of Shiva, visited by Hindu pilgrims from across the world, however, was only partly damaged amid the death and destruction by flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides caused in various parts of Uttarakhand for the many consecutive days.
The temple is an important part of the `Char Dham` yatra. The annual pilgrimage had begun on Friday with the re-opening of the sacred portals of the Himalayan shrines of Gangotri and Yamunotri for devotees.
Kedarnath temple, the other important part of the yatra is scheduled to re-open tomorrow.
Amid extensive arrangements to ensure safety of pilgrims, the portals of Gangotri dham dedicated to `Mother Ganges`, located in Uttarakashi district, were opened two day before on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya after the traditional six-month winter break.
The `Char Dham Yatra` was struck by the unprecedented natural calamity last year causing largescale loss of lives and property in areas close to the four famous shrines in Garhwal Himalayas. Over 5,000 people were dead or missing, including pilgrims from various parts of the country.
As it is the first season after the tragedy brought the yatra to an abrupt halt and the Kedarnath temple was also closed, elaborate arrangements have been made this year for safe conduct of the journey, including deployment of security and disaster relief personnel, biometric registration of pilgrims and issuing of weather alerts on mobile phones.
The Himalayan shrines are closed for six months every year during winter when they become snowbound. Closed every year in October-November, they are reopened in April-May.
Lakhs of devotees and tourists from all over the country and abroad visit the shrines during the char dham yatra considered the mainstay of the state`s economy. Apart from repairing and rebuilding new roads in the area, enough food and water supplies have been made available for devotees.
With agency inputs