|Devotees waiting to offer prayers after the doors of Badrinath shrine were opened on Monday.|
Dehradun - The portals of the Badrinath shrine, dedicated to the worship of Lord Vishnu, opened amid chanting of mantras at 4 a.m. on Monday.
The number of devotees who thronged the snow-covered premises was “beyond expectations,” according to Chamoli District Magistrate S.A. Murugesan.
“Around 7,000 people visited the shrine,” he said. More than 3,000 visitors were pilgrims, and the remaining were locals, he said.
Even after the commencement of the pilgrimage, repair work on the road from Govindghat to Badrinath has not been finished.
The Border Roads Organisation has placed earth movers at critical spots where landslips are a probability.
Steps have been taken to regulate traffic for pilgrim safety.
“We are regulating traffic at Joshimath, Pandukeshwar, Hanuman Chatti, and Badrinath. The vehicles can only proceed in batches of 20 to 25, and no vehicle will be allowed for the Yatra after sunset and during rains,” said Mr. Murugesan.
With the opening of the Badrinath shrine, the Char Dham Yatra, which involves pilgrimage to all the four Dhams — Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, and Kedarnath — has begun.
While the Badrinath shrine opened for pilgrims on Monday, the Kedarnath shrine had opened for pilgrims on Sunday, and Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines had opened on Friday.
Flanked by the Nar and Narayana mountains and the gushing waters of Alaknanda, Badrinath town reverberated with positive energy after the deathly silence of last year's tragedy.
The yatra was suspended last year in the wake of the catastrophic flashfloods in Uttarakhand in June, killing thousands of people. The Char Dhams are closed every year for nearly six months during the winter when they become snowbound only to be reopened during April-May when lakhs of devotees from all over the country and abroad visit the shrines.