iconimg Thursday, May 07, 2015

Naresh K Thakur, Hindustan Times
Dharamsala, August 22, 2013
Taking a cue from the Uttarakhand tragedy, which left hundreds dead and thousands homeless, the Chamba district administration has taken fresh safety measures for annual Manimahesh pilgrimage starting on August 28 in tribal Bharmour subdivision. The district administration will be installing close circuit television (CCTV) cameras on important points along the 14-km track to the Manimahesh Lake.

"We will be installing CCTV cameras along the Manimahesh route to keep round-the-clock vigil on the track. The control room will be set up either in Bharmour or Harsar base camp from where on-foot journey starts to the holy lake," said Chamba deputy commissioner Sandeep Kadam Vasant.

"It will help in a quick response from our rescue teams in any emergent situation on any point en route the lake," Vasant said, adding that the administration has identified some dangerous spots on the route where these cameras would be installed.

Besides, the administration has formed rescue teams comprising police personnel, health officials and home guards.

"These teams will be positioned at different points along the track. People from Regional Mountaineering Institute at Bharmour will also be providing services in rescue teams," Vasant said, adding that the administration will keep a close watch on the weather conditions too.

Elaborating about the other measures taken, Vasant said there would be registration of pilgrims this year. The registration would be done by the Manimahesh Temple Trust staff and a record of devotees visiting the lake would be maintained. The registration forms will have to be submitted at Kalsuin near Chamba or Harsar.

"Besides, we have also undertaken maintenance of the track. The treacherous spots have been cleared," said Vasant. Transit health centres, huts for rest and stay and toilets will be set up en route the Manimahesh Lake.

Situated in Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas in Chamba district at an altitude of 4,080 (13,500 ft) m, Manimahesh Lake is annually visited by over 5 to 8 lakh devotees to take a holy dip.

Pilgrims undertake an arduous 14-km trek from the Hadsar base camp to the oval-shaped lake from where pilgrims can see Mount Kailash and offer prayers.

According to the Hindu mythology, the Manimahesh Kailash peak close to the lake is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. This place is believed to be the second to the Lake Manasarovar in its religious significance.

The annual pilgrimage to Manimahesh will start on August 28, the occasion of Janmashtmi - the birth of Lord Krishna - and will conclude on Radha Ashtmi, which falls on September 12.