Shimla, Aug 21 (IANS) The fortnight-long pilgrimage to Manimahesh lake, linked to Lord Shiva, in Himachal Pradesh will begin on August 25 and about 200,000 people are expected to take part in it, an official said on Sunday.
The oval-shaped Manimahesh lake is located at an altitude of 13,500 feet in Bharmour region of Chamba district from where pilgrims can see Mount Kailash, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, and offer prayers.
“All arrangements have been made for the devotees to stay in tents. Special medical camps have been set up along the route to the lake,” Deputy Commissioner Sudesh Mokhta told IANS.
The pilgrimage, considered as arduous a trek as the one to the Amarnath cave shrine in Kashmir, will conclude on September 9.
The first holy dip in the lake will take place on Krishna Janmashtami (August 25) and the second and the last one will be held on Radhashthmi (September 9).
The state government has allowed a private heli-taxi operator to ferry pilgrims.
Helicopters will ferry devotees between Bharmour town, the base camp of the pilgrimage known for ‘Chaurasi’ or 84 Hindu temples, and Gauri Kund, just one km short of the lake. The fare per person per single trip is Rs 2,010.
The journey on foot starts from Hadsar village in Chamba district at a height of 6,000 feet and concludes after traversing a distance of 14 km at the lake, which is situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet.
It is believed that devotees can have a view of Mount Kailash only if Lord Shiva is pleased. “Otherwise, all one sees is clouds,” say believers.
Hadsar is located some 215 km from Pathankot (Punjab) which is connected by rail.