Prayers resumed at the Kedarnath shrine on Wednesday morning after the Gandhi sarovar overflowed and flooded Kedarnath on June 17.
The prayers, which were resumed within 3 months of the catastrophe, started at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. Vageeshling, who is a representative of the Rawal (chief priest) said, “Rawal Bhimashankar Ling started the purification of the temple along with other priests, people from the State administration, and the members of the Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Commiittee.”
Prayers started after the purification was over, Vageeshling said.
Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna was unable to attend the prayers as inclement weather prevented him from travelling.
A rock, believed to have saved the temple from the floods by preventing the flood waters from destroying the temple, was also worshipped. Some priests have named the rock Divya Shila (divine rock) while others call it the Bheem Shila.
The prayers continued till evening. Rameshwar Jamloki, a priest in the temple said, “From Thursday, the prayers will start in the morning and will continue till the evening. This routine will be followed till the beginning of the Diwali festival after which the prayers in the temple will be over for the year and will resume only next year.”
The prayers started on May 14 this year but stopped on June 17. Between June 17 and September 11, Vageeshling continued the prayers of the Bhog murti, which is a symbol of lord Shiva. The Bhog murti was shifted to Garudchatti on June 18. From there, it was moved to Okhimath on June 20 and it continued to be worshipped there before it was brought to Kedarnath temple for the prayers.
On Wednesday, around 300 people attended the prayers. Dilip Jawalkar, District Magistrate, Rudraprayag, said, “In the last one month around 800 people have been deployed here, including the people from the Public Works Department, hydel power, and water department.”
The police, the National Disaster Response Force personnel, and members of the National Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) were also stationed here.
The June 17 deluge had destroyed the buildings around the Kedarnath temple. The landscape is covered with the after effects of the deluge. Though the prayers have resumed, it would take many years for Kedarnath to be rebuilt.
A three-member team from the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has been mapping the Kedarnath area from September 9. The GSI would give a report to the government based on which the rebuilding of the area would take place.
The NIM has currently placed tents 2 km away from the temple. Some pre-fabricated huts have also been placed here. Water facility and electricity have been resumed in the area.
Mr. Jawalkar said locals, who live nearby, can visit the temple after taking the authorities’ permission. Pilgrims, however, would not be allowed to visit the temple till September 30.
Keywords: Uttarakhand floods, flash floods, landslips, Uttarakhand landslides, Himalayan ecosystem, Char Dham yatra, Uttarakhand rescue, disaster management, Indian Army rescue, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Rudraprayag, Pauri, Himalayan rivers, National Disaster Relief Force, Gaurikund, Hemkund Sahib, Uttarakhand pilgrimage