Chamba: The traditional ‘Chhari Yatra’ or the procession with the mace of Lord Shiva has started from this town, 450 km from the state capital, on its onward journey to the Manimahesh Lake, an official said Monday.
The holy mace is carried every year from the 1,000-year-old Lakshmi Narayan temple to the oval-shaped and glacier-fed lake located at an altitude of 13,500 feet.
“The ‘Chhari Yatra’ started from Chamba Sunday and would reach the Manimahesh Lake Sep 22,” said B.R. Kamal, the additional district magistrate and the pilgrimage in-charge.
The 45-day-long annual Manimahesh pilgrimage commenced Aug 10 and would conclude on Radhashthmi, Sep 23, when thousands of devotees would take a dip in the lake.
More than 300,000 devotees have so far this year undertaken the pilgrimage to the Manimahesh Lake in the Bharmour Valley from where they can see Mount Kailash, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, and offer prayers.
During the pilgrimage four people have died — three deaths were accidental and one due to heart failure.
The state government has allowed private heli-taxi operator Sim Sam Airlines to ferry people during the pilgrimage.
The choppers ferry devotees between Bharmour town, the base camp of the pilgrimage, and Gauri Kund, just one km short of the lake. The to-and-fro fare per person is Rs.8,450.
The journey on foot starts from Hadsar at a height of 6,000 feet and concludes at 13,500 feet at the lake, a distance of 14 km.
This pilgrimage is considered as arduous a trek as the one to the Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.