A year after Uttarakhand floods, 'Char Dham Yatra' begins
The annual 'Char Dham yatra' began for devotees with the reopening of the sacred portals of the Himalayan shrines of Gangotri and Yamunotri in Uttarakhand, a year after the devastating floods that left a trail of destruction and an immense loss to life and property.
The portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri Temple, located in Uttarakashi district, were opened on Friday on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, after the traditional six-month winter break.
The region is a popular Hindu pilgrimage destination due to its four temple towns of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, which make up the site called "Char Dham Yatra", attracting tens of thousands of devotees from all over India and abroad during the peak summer months.
The president of temple committee, Suresh Semwal on Saturday said the portals would remain open for the devotees for next six months
"The doors of the Gangotri Temple have been opened and it will remain open for the devotees for next six months," said Semwal.
A large number of devotees flocked to the temple to witness the ceremony marked by religious rituals held by the priest of the temple.
The Yamunotri shrine dedicated to 'Mother Yamuna' in the same district was also reopened to devotees after special prayers and rituals performed by the head priest.
A devotee, Shruti, urged more pilgrims to visit the holy shrine.
"The Char Dham Yatra begins from Yamunotri and everyone should come over here and undertake this pilgrimage. The condition of the road is good and we did not face any problem," said Shruti.
For thousands of years, pilgrims have flocked to Uttarakhand's majestic Himalayan mountains, drawn by the ancient Hindu belief that it was here that deities such as Lord Shiva and Vishnu resided.
The region, with its lush green valley dotted with countless temples and shrines, is often referred to as 'Dev Bhoomi' or the 'Land of the Gods.'
The unprecedented rainfall last year, which wreaked havoc across the region, making rivers overflow and setting off massive landslides, killed almost 6,000 people.
Two lakh people, one-fifth of Uttarakhand's population, have had their lives disrupted by the devastation.
The rains buried villages in silt and washed away roads, while raging rivers like the Ganges swept away homes on their banks.
(Posted on 04-05-2014)