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Indian PM embarks on pilgrimage to Himayalan state

Xinhua, May 3, 2017 Adjust font size:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday embarked on a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Hindu God, Lord Shiva, in Kedarnath town of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in the north.

Flanked by Uttarakhand Governor K.K. Paul and Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Modi reached the shrine of Lord Shiva by an Indian army helicopter at a helipad built close to the famous temple located at a height of over 11,000 feet.

Modi visited the shrine just before it reopened its gates after a six-month winter break. He also took part in an important ritual inside the temple, becoming the first person to offer prayers at the shrine at the start of the pilgrimage season.

The Kedarnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the holiest of the four shrines in Uttarakhand. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April to the autumn full moon, usually in November.

During the winters, the deities from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath, another place down the hills, and worshiped there for six months. Lord Shiva is worshiped as Kedarnath, the "Lord of Kedar Khand", the historical name of the region.

Kedarnath was the worst affected area during the 2013 flash floods in northern India.

The temple complex, surrounding areas and Kedarnath town suffered extensive damage, but the temple structure did not suffer any major damage, apart from a few cracks on one side of the four walls. which was caused by the flowing debris from the higher mountains.

A large rock among the debris acted as a barrier, protecting the temple from the flood. The surrounding premises and other buildings in market area were heavily damaged. Endit