Chardham yatra begins without usual fanfare

Dehradun, Apr 26 (PTI) The annual Chardham Yatra began on Saturday with the opening of the Gangotri and Yamunotri temples in Garhwal Himalayas, but in absence of pilgrims owing to the coronavirus crisis.

Only a select group of priests and temple trust officials attended the opening ceremony which was held adhering to social distancing norms. The Gangotri temple was opened at 12.35 pm and the Yamunotri temple at 12.41 pm.

Uttarkashi District Magistrate Ashish Chauhan said the opening of the two temples was kept a simple affair this time in compliance with the guidelines issued by the Centre in view of the countrywide lockdown to fight the novel coronavirus.  A team led by Chief Medical Officer D P Joshi examined the priests before allowing them to perform the rituals, he said, adding police and administrative teams were also present to ensure protocols formulated in view of the contagion were followed.

Earlier in the day, ornate palanquins (utsav dolis) carrying the idols of goddesses Ganga and Yamuna were brought from their winter abodes of Mukhba and Kharsali respectively to be installed at the temples where they will be worshipped over the next few months until their closure for winter.

Meanwhile, the Utsav Doli of Baba Kedar (Lord Shiva) also left from Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath on Sunday for Kedarnath whose gates are scheduled to be opened on April 29 in absence of pilgrims. PTI ALM NSD NSD