Kedarnath temple makes new start with puja

FrontPrayers resumed at Kedarnath on Wednesday, 86 days after the devastating floods. PTI

More than two-and-a-half months after it witnessed death and destruction due to flashfloods and landslides, puja resumed at the Kedarnath temple Wednesday in the presense of government officials and the media.

A final decision on restarting the holy journey to Kedarnath, however, will be taken at a meeting on September 30.

The helicopter of Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna was not able to reach the temple due to bad weather and landed at Guptkashi, where he waited for two hours for the weather to improve.

The puja began at 7 am, with priests chanting mantras for more than two hours. Recorded mantras were being played on the public address system.

The ritual began after Bheemashankar Linga, the chief priest, opened the temple decorated with flowers.

After the puja, a group of the priests went behind the temple and worshipped "Divya Shila", a divine rock which believers say protected the shrine from total destruction. Thereafter, a havan was performed.

Most of the destruction was covered with a cloth and flowers. The administration has sprayed bleaching powder on the route leading to the temple.

Meanwhile, main Opposition BJP questioned the hasty puja. Former CM Ramesh Pokhriyal, who has undertaken a padyatra from Guptkashi to Kedarnath, termed the ritual "government-sponsored". The local administration tried to stop him at Phata but Pokhriyal continued his march to the temple. He was eight km away at the time of filing this report.

BSNL has installed two towers near the temple, a control room has been set up and about 500 labourers are restoring the Kedar valley route from Gaurikund to the temple.

A 33-member EPIL team, tasked by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to clear the silt and debris accumulated near the temple, has put up several tents near it.

As things stand today, the pedestrian route from Sonprayag will not open soon. The once 14-km route has extended to 24 km and the main task before the government is to set up a base camp along it.

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