Dehradun, Oct 25: The sacred portals of Kedarnath and Yamunotri shrines in Garhwal Himalayas were closed today for winters after elaborate rituals held amid chanting of vedic hymns. Gates of Kedarnath, the most important of the four Himalayan shrines located in Uttarakhand were closed at 6 am for the season, the first after a devastating deluge ravaged large parts of Kedar Valley last year.
Chief priest of the shrine Rawal Bhima Shankar Ling, prominent temple committee and administrative officials, besides scores of devotees were in attendance as the doors of the famous temple were closed, Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee vice president Madhu Bhatt said.
As the ancient shrine was closed for devotees, a procession left with a symbol of Lord Shiva for Ukhimath, the village where the deity will be kept and worshipped during the whole of winter when the high-altitude shrine becomes snowbound and inaccessible.
The procession will halt at Gauri Kund and Guptkashi before it reaches Ukhimath on the fourth day, Bhatt said. A total of 40,000 devotees paid obeisance at Kedarnath this season, a number far smaller than the average footfall of nearly 1.5 to 2 lakh annually.
The portals of Yamunotri were closed amid elaborate prayers and rituals at 12:10 AM in the presence of Uttarkashi District Magistrate C Ravishankar, temple committee officials, and scores of devotees, the temple committee vice president Pawan Uniyal said. 'Ma Yamuna' to whom the temple is dedicated was taken out as its door were closed for winters and taken in a palanquin (Utsav doli) in the form of a procession to Kharsali where she will be worshipped during the season.
With the closure of Yamunotri, three of the four major Himalayan shrines located in Uttarakhand stand closed. Portals of Gangotri were closed yesterday while those of Badrinath are scheduled to be closed on November 27.