Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines open for devotees

Dehradun : The inclement weather prevailing in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand has not been a damper to religious enthusiasts on pilgrims to the Badrinath and Kedarnath shrines of the state.

While the doors of the Kedarnath temple located at a height of over 3400 metres were opened to the devotees on Saturday, the doors of the Badrinath shrine were opened to the pilgrims today.

Over 3000 devotees from various parts of the country and a handful of foreigners were among the first batch of pilgrims to reach Kedarnath shrine yesterday.

But as the weather turned for the worst, concerned authorities stopped the pilgrims from proceeding to the temple at 12 noon.

Kedarnath Temple

It was also decided that all devotees over 60 years of age will have to undergo a medical test and then only will they be allowed to proceed ahead.

This has been decided following the death of four pilgrims due to a heart attack on Saturday, despite various medical teams having been placed at strategic points.

Temple authorities said that the district administration, taking into consideration the rarefied atmosphere at the height, where the oxygen content is very low, had also decided not to allow those suffering from asthma to embark on the pilgrimage.

They said that taking into consideration the weather forecast that inclement weather could persist for the next couple of days, relief camps had been put up for the pilgrims at Gaurikund, Kedarnath and Rambari.

Assistance was also being taken from the ITBP and army authorities for the smooth flow of pilgrims, they added.

Badrinath. Photo by: Sanjeev Minhas

Authorities said that a direct contact had been maintained with the meteorological department, which had been asked to relay the weather conditions and forecast every three hours, so that the pilgrims could be stopped from proceeding onwards if the weather was to take a turn for the worse.

Reliance big boss Anil Ambani and BJP leader Uma Bharti were amongst those in the first batch of pilgrims who paid obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum of the Kedarnath shrine.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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