Dehradun: Devotees thronged major chardham destinations - Yamunotri and Gangotri - in Uttarakhand today as the sacred portals of the Himalayan shrines were thrown open to public on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya amid chanting of vedic hymns and blowing of conch shells.
After their closure for six months during winter when they are snow-bound, the portals of these famous shrines were formally reopened at the appointed hour by their head priests in a spiritually charged atmosphere as thousands of pilgrims looked on.
The colourful ritual began after the idols of goddesses Yamunotri and Gangotri were brought in palanquins by the residents of villages where they are worshipped during their winter sojourn.
The portals of Yamunotri were opened at 12:15 hours, while those of Gangotri were thrown open at 14:45 hours.
The idol of Goddess Gangotri is shifted to a temple in nearby Mukhwa village where she is worshipped during winter.
Similarly, the idol of goddess Yamunotri is kept at a shrine in Kharsali village during the period when their high altitude original abodes in the Himalayas become inaccessible due to snow.
Portals of the other two shrines of chardham yatra Kedarnath and Badrinath are scheduled to be reopened tomorrow and the day after respectively.
The chardham yatra has already begun in the hill state with the first batch of 1,000 pilgrims having embarked on the journey yesterday.