Thousands of pilgrims from across north India took a holy dip in natural hot spring at the right bank of the Sutlej in Tatapani area of Mandi district on the occasion of 'Makar Sakranti' on Tuesday.
Local residents said the number of pilgrims was the highest ever this year; perhaps, due to the reports of merger of the Sutlej bank - the site of holy bath - in the Koldam reservoir by the end of the year.
On the occasion, many pilgrims also performed the traditional ritual 'tooladaan' - donating a mixture of seven kinds of grains, including rice and wheat equal to their body weight - to pacify or divert the bad influence of various planets on their fate, as per Hindu mythology.
Every year, according to the Hindu calendar 'Vikrami Samvat', holy bath and tooladaan take place on Makar Sakranti, where 'pandits' (priests) perform the rituals.
This year too, hundreds of pandits assembled at Tatapani to perform tooladaan for thousands of pilgrims who started flocking here since the morning.
Pandit Khem Ram, who hails from Chauhar valley under Karsog subdivision, said the process of tooladaan and holy dip that started early on Tuesday morning would continue for three days. The tooladaan and holy dip would again take place on the eve of 'Baishakhi' in April here, if the Sutlej banks were not submerged in the Koldam reservoir, he added.
Pandit Khushi Ram said the reservoir, which was likely to be completed this year, would submerge the natural hot water source, which was the reason that maximum pilgrims thronged here. This would be, perhaps, their last visit to the holy spring, he added.