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The sacred portals of the Himalyan shrine of Kedarnath will be opened on May 17 at 5 in the morning and there are no restrictions on the number of visitors, said Ravinath Raman, the chief executive officer (CEO) Chardham Devasthanam Management Board.
The decision to open the portals was taken on the occasion of Shivratri in line with the auspicious time from an astrological point of view at Omkareshwar temple at Ukhimath.
“We are expecting a good pilgrim rush this year. We are not putting any restrictions on the number of pilgrims who can come to Char Dham shrines as we did last year due to Covid-19. The general precautions for checking the spread of Covid-19 will have to be taken by all,” said CEO Raman.
Last year the portals of Kedarnath shrine were opened on April 29 and the first prayers were offered on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help the country fight against the coronavirus pandemic. This year, the officials and the priests are expecting a good rush on the first day of the shrine reopening.
In February, the date for opening the portals of Badrinath shrine - May 18 - was declared on the occasion of Basant Panchami.
According to Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board officials, last year overall some 3.1 lakh pilgrims came for Char Dham Yatra, including 1.3 lakh pilgrims for Kedarnath.
The Char Dham shrines were opened for pilgrims on July 1 last year by the state government.
Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri and Gangotri are collectively called the Char Dham and attract lakhs of pilgrims each year. Traditionally, Char Dham pilgrimage begins from the west from Yamunotri, then moves to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath in the east.
Located at a height of nearly 3,500 meters above the sea level, Kedarnath temple is near Mandakini river in Rudraprayag district. According to tradition, the shrine was built by Pandavas and revived by Adi Shankaracharya. The shrine was the worst affected area during the 2013 flash floods, with Kedarnath town suffering extensive damage.