STATE TIMES NEWS
Srinagar: Several Kashmiri Pandits have undertaken the annual pilgrimage to the 14,500-feet-high Harmukh-Gangbal Lake Shrine in the central Kashmir Himalayas this year, officials said.
The Yatra to the Shrine had started on September 16 from the Naraan Naag Temple after a ceremony was performed for the Holy Mace of Lord Shiva (the Charri Pujan). The Temple was built by Karakota Dynasty king Laltaditya Muktapida in the 8th Century.
Over 53 Kashmiri Pandits have undertaken the three-day pilgrimage under the banner of the Harmukh Ganga (Gangbal) Trust (HGGT) and the All Parties Migrants’ Coordination Committee (APMCC) this year, trust officials said.
Led by APMCC Chairman Vinod Pandit they trekked 36-km to the Shrine of Gangbal and Mount Harmukh.
On September 17, 16-km into the trek, the Charri had reached the Gangbal Lake and the base of the Mount Harmukh.
The pilgrims had also performed Mahashardha for those killed in the line of duty and for departed souls on the banks of the Holy Harmukh Ganga (Gangbal). Sharadha of their ancestors was also performed, Pandit, who is also the Trust’s General Secretary, said. The pilgrimage to the Harmukh-Gangbal shrine began in 2009, after a gap of nearly a century. It was restarted by the HGGT and the APMCC. The Gangbal Lake, located at the feet of the majestic Harmukh mountain (16,832 feet), is about 3.5-km-long, half-a-km wide and its deepest point is over 80 metres. Harmukh is the abode of Lord Shiva, , according to Hindu mythology.
On Gang Ashtmi, the eighth day of the waxing moon of Bhadron, Hindus take the remains of their dead to the lake beneath Haramukh and perform Sharadli. Bhadron-Bhadon takes place between August and September.
Pandit said the HGGT had authorised conduct of the annual Gangbal Yatra from September 16 to 18.
It has ensured pilgrims go through proper registration and have identity cards for security reasons, he said.
King Bharati, the HGGT’s Vice-president said the pilgrimage was well managed.
Kashmiri Hindus have been immersing the mortal remains of their departed relatives at Gangabal from time immemorial. This was, however, discontinued after the turmoil, Rajiv Pandita, a member of the Yatra, said.
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