Security has been beefed up as over 80 lakh kanwarias or Lord Shiva devotees are expected to participate in the fortnight long Kanwar festival at the holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh beginning from Monday.
"We are deploying nearly 25,000 police force along with two companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) to deal with the rush of over 80 lakh Kanwarias who are expected to participate in the festival," Inspector General M A Ganpathy said.
He said the state government has decided not to close the Haridwar-Muzaffarnagar highway and pilgrims would be asked to trek along the Ganga canal.
However, the Muzaffarnagar-Delhi highway would remain closed for traffic during the fortnight, Ganpathy said.
Meanwhile, the police have banned the entry of Kanwarias into the hill resort of Mussoorie in order to maintain law and order, Ganpathy said.
Last year, nearly 65,000 of the Shiva devotees participated in the festival.
Dressed in saffron coloured clothes, they carry holy water (on kanwar) of river Ganga from Neelkanth, Gomukh or Haridwar to be poured on the Shivlinga in their hometown on the occasion of Shivratri.
This journey on foot, when completed, is supposed to fulfil their wishes and endear them to Lord Shiva.
Kanwarias are called so because they carry a kanwar or pole on their shoulder with the covered water pots balanced on its two ends.