The portals of revered Hindu shrine Kedarnath were closed for winters amid chanting of vedas at 8am on Friday. The portals will remain closed for the next six months. The closing ceremony was witnessed by a large number of pilgrims, officials of the Badri Kedar Temple Committee (BKTC) and priests.
During this period (November to April), the Kedarnath seat is shifted to Ukhimath – the winter home of the deity of Kedarnath. It is also the seat of Raval (main priest of Kedarnath) during this period.
Uttarakhand has four shrines - Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamnotri and Gangotri. The portals of Gangotri shrine were closed on Thursday while that of Badrinath shrine will be closed for six months on November 17. The portals of Yamnotri shrine will be closed at 1.30pm on Friday.
This year, 1.54 lakh pilgrims visited Kedarnath that was devastated by the 2013 floods. The floods killed more than 5,000 pilgrims in the Kedarnath valley. Infrastructure, including roads, bridges and buildings were also severely damaged.
After the devastation, the Uttarakhand government with the help of funds from the Centre, started reconstruction work at the Kedarnath shrine. The roads leading to the shrine were also reconstructed.
“I had visited Babaji (Kedarnath) shrine earlier. Till last year, the surroundings looked in the bad shape but now it has changed altogether,” said Mool Chand, a travel operator from Madhya Pradesh.
In April, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had visited the shrine during the opening of the portals and had expressed satisfaction over the ongoing reconstruction work. Gandhi trekked from Sonprayag to Kedarnath. His visit was seen as a political tour which the Congress had denied.