Cracks surface in Gangotri temple

Dehradun, June 28 (IANS) Even as rescue operations are on in flood-hit Uttarakhand and a team of experts is gauging damage to the 1,000-year-old Kedarnath shrine, officials Friday said that cracks have appeared in the Gangotri temple – one of the shrines on the Char Dham route.

Officials said the courtyard of the 19th century temple, which is known to be the source of the Ganga, in Uttarkashi, had been damaged owing to the torrential downpour June 15 and an overflowing spring had led to cracks in one of the structure’s walls.

“Though the actual distance of the Ganga river from the temple is about 18 km, the rain water accumulated on the roof top of the courtyard, leading to seepage and cracks in one of the walls,” said an official.

The cracks on the wall of the temple were “very ominous as some part of the temple roof was made of wood and hence the cracks could further aggravate the damage”, said an official.

Officials say the Bhairon Jhap waterfall is a major cause of concern for the well-being of the temple as overflowing water and rocks and pebbles flowing in it damage the structure.

Dronacharya Samwal, priest of the temple, said while vagaries of rains and other natural calamities were always a concern, this year’s “frightening” rains, early in the month, have sent jitters down their spines.

Officials said they will attend to the temple after the evacuation of pilgrims is done.

“As of now, the entire administration is busy with the Kedarnath tragedy and is engaged in shifting pilgrims to safety. After this is over, we will certainly attend to the damage in the temple too,” an official of Uttarkashi told IANS.

The sanctum sanctorum of the temple, situated at 3,100 metres height, houses an idol of Ganga and thousands of pilgrims and devotee visit it every year between June and August, officials said.

Nearby areas like Joshimath and Harshil have been ravaged by the rains in Uttarakhand and have been at the epicentre of the tragedy and the subsequent rescue operations in the region.

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