Hemkund Sahib shrine portals open for devotees, with cap in daily pilgrim influx

The Hemkund Sahib Yatra, which was affected due to the Covid 19 pandemic for the past two years, has been started in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district with a cap on the daily pilgrim influx.
A 1,100-metre climb on a 6 km stone-paved path leads to Hemkund. It is inaccessible from October to April because of snow. (Rajeev Kala)
A 1,100-metre climb on a 6 km stone-paved path leads to Hemkund. It is inaccessible from October to April because of snow. (Rajeev Kala)
Published on May 22, 2022 04:55 PM IST
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MUSSOORIE: The portals of Hemkund Sahib, one of the most revered shrines of the Sikh community, opened for devotees amid religious chants on Sunday Morning in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.

The Hemkund Sahib Yatra was affected due to the Covid 19 pandemic for the past two years but this time it is starting with a cap on the daily pilgrim influx. Only 5,000 pilgrims are permitted to visit Hemkund Sahib in a day and the elderly pilgrims will only be permitted to take the 16 km trek to Hemkund Sahib after medical screening and consultation with the doctors.

Last year, over 10,000 pilgrims visited the shrine compared to around 8,500 in 2020. In 2019, 1.65 lakh pilgrims visited the shrine.

NS Bindra, vice-president of Sri Hemkund Sahib Management Trust said, “The portals of the Hemkund Sahib shrine were opened at 10am with the offering of prayers by Panj Pyaraas, the five holy men from the Sikh community”.

The first batch of 5,000 pilgrims led by the Panch Pyaras reached Ghangharia on Saturday afternoon from Govindghat Gurudwara and the process of opening the portal began at 9.30am on Sunday after the holy book of the Sikh community Guru Granth Sahib was brought from Sachkhand and kept in the Darbar Sahib. It was followed by recitation of Sukhmani at 10am which marked the opening of the portals for the 5,000 devotees. Later Shabad Kirtan and the first ardas (prayers) of this year were held around12.30pm on Sunday.

“All the preparation for yatra is in place, and we are working closely with the district administration to ensure a hassle-free yatra for the devotees”, said Bindra who welcomed Panj Pyaras on the occasion and prayed for the prosperity and peace in the state and the country.

The pilgrims take a trek from Pulna, 3 km away from Govind Ghat to Hemkund Sahib and after completing 6 km steep climb, they stay overnight at Ghangria from where they again make their way for Hemkund Sahib on foot.

Situated at a height of over 15,000 feet above sea level, Hemkund Sahib has emerged as a popular centre of Sikh pilgrimage which is visited by lakhs of devotees from all over the world every summer. Hemkund is inaccessible because of snow from October to April. A 1,100-metre climb on a 6 km stone-paved path leads to Hemkund.

According to the website of the shrine, it was during the 30’s of the 20th century that the place was discovered by Sant Sohan Singh and Bhai Modam Singh. Bhai Vir Singh, Sikh savant and a leading figure of the Singh Sabha movement played an important role first in helping these two people by verifying for them the location of the place and later by providing financial support for building a gurudwara at Hemkund.

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