The portals of Sikh shrine Hemkunt Sahib in Uttarakhand, situated at a height of 4,329 metres, closed for the winter on Friday.
After the recital of Sukhmani Sahib and ardas, mukh granthi (head priest) Jassa Singh announced the closure of the shrine. More than 1,000 pilgrims participated in the closing ceremony.
The portals of Laxman temple situated on the other side of the Hemkunt lake also closed down. Residents of Bhyundar and Pulna villages took part in the religious ceremony on the occasion.
With the mercury falling, the Hemkunt lake would start freezing and the whole area would be covered in a sheet of snow.
The aftermath of last year’s natural disaster in Uttarakhand was evident from the footfall of pilgrims to the Hemkunt Sahib this year. Whereas the turnout was 7.5 lakh in 2011 and 6.5 lakh in 2012, the number dropped to 1.8 lakh this year. The 2013 yatra was severely hit by the June disaster and only 1.44 lakh pilgrims reached Hemkunt Sahib last year.
Balvinder Singh, Harcharan Singh and other members of their jatha said the drop in the number of pilgrims was due to reports of bad roads and frequent landslides during the monsoon.