Manimahesh Pilgrimage Begins in Himachal

Chamba (Himachal Pradesh), Aug 22 (IANS): The 15-day Manimahesh pilgrimage in the interiors of Himachal Pradesh's Chamba district started Monday with authorities expecting 700,000 devotees, an official said.

The pilgrimage that began on Janmashtami -- celebrated to mark birth of Lord Krishna -- will end on Radhashtami, the birth of Krishna's consort Radha, Sep 5, Deputy Commissioner Sharab Negi told IANS.

He said all arrangements, including stay of devotees in tents, have been made.

Every year, devotees undertake an arduous 14-km trek from the Hadsar base camp, some 65 km from here, to the oval-shaped glacial-fed Manimahesh Lake from where they can see Mount Kailash, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, and offer prayers.

"The 'Charri Yatra' (holy mace procession) would begin from 1,000-year-old Lakshmi Narayan temple in Chamba town Sep 29. It would reach Manimahesh Lake on Radhashthmi," he said.

He said the first holy dip took place Monday and the second and the last one would be held on Radhashthmi.

It is believed that the devotees can have a view of the Mount Kailash only if the lord is pleased. When the peak is hidden behind clouds, it is a sign of the lord's unhappiness, the believers say.

The state government has also allowed a private heli-taxi operator to ferry people during the pilgrimage.

The choppers ferry devotees between Bharmour town, known for 'churasi' or 84 Hindu temples, and Gauri Kund, just one km short of the lake. The to-and-fro fare per person is Rs.7,500.

The journey starts from Hadsar at a height of 6,000 feet, and after passing through rugged, cold and inhospitable terrain, it concludes at 13,500 feet at the lake.


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Title: Manimahesh Pilgrimage Begins in Himachal

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