DEHRADUN, INDIA, May 4, 2014 (India Today): Sacred portals of the Kedarnath temple were reopened to devotees amid elaborate rituals early on Sunday morning, about a year after the Himalayan shrine was marred by flash floods that had left thousands of people dead and many others stranded. Chief priest of the shrine (Rawal) Bhima Shankar Ling presided over the rituals as its gates were opened amid chanting of Vedic hymns. About 1,252 devotees including eight foreign nationals visited the shrine on the opening day.
It is the first Char Dham yatra (to four sacred places in the Himalayas: Kedarnath, Gangotri, Badrinath and Yamnotri) after last year's calamity. The annual pilgrimage was struck by the unprecedented flash floods last year causing large-scale loss of lives and property. Over 5,000 people were dead or missing, including pilgrims from various parts of the country.
Expressing happiness over the first day turnout, Committee CEO V.D Singh said it was much more than their expectations. "The crowd was bigger than expected and there was much enthusiasm among the devotees. It is an indication that the fear psychosis gripping people outside the state in the wake of last years tragedy is subsiding gradually. "The crowd of visitors is likely to swell as the snow begins to melt," he said.