Chamba (Himachal Pradesh).
The 14-day long pilgrimage to the glacier-fed Manimahesh lake, dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the Bharmour valley here began on Monday amidst religious fervour, an official said.
The commencing of the pilgrimage located at a height of 13,500 feet coincides with Janmashtami, the festival celebrating Lord Krishna’s birth. It will conclude on Radha Ashtami on September 17.
Every year, people trek to the oval shaped lake to catch a glimpse of Mount Kailash, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, and offer prayers.
The uphill journey, starting at around 6,000 feet in Hadsar in Chamba district, is considered as arduous as the trek to the Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Tents and medical camps have been set up to facilitate the devotees," Deputy Commissioner Harikesh Meena told IANS.
Two private heli-taxi operators have been allowed to ferry people during the pilgrimage. So far over 300 people were ferried between Bharmour and Gauri Kund near the lake.
The entire 14-km trek track from the Hadsar base camp, some 65 km from here, to the Manimahesh lake has been repaired, he added.
Even before its official start, thousands of devotees undertook the pilgrimage.
It is believed that the devotees can view Mount Kailash only if Lord Shiva is pleased. When the peak is hidden behind clouds, it is a sign of the lord’s unhappiness, believers say.>