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Hindu temple reopens after flash floods killed thousands

Kedarnath temple has stood empty since June

Hindu temple reopens after flash floods killed thousands

New tracks are being prepared to enable pilgrims to trek to the temple

Ritu Sharma, New Delhi
India

September 11, 2013

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Kedarnath temple in the northern state of Uttarakhand was officially reopened on Wednesday. One of the nation’s most revered Hindu shrines, it had been closed since flash floods in June created havoc and killed thousands of people in the region, most of them pilgrims on their way to the temple.

The reopening was preceded with a prayer cermony on Tuesday, when a helicopter carried 24 dignitaries to the temple in Kedarnath Valley. Chief priest Rawal Bhima Shankar opened its doors and started the prayers with a purification ceremony, atoning for the prolonged suspension of prayers at the shrine. For the first time in centuries, there had been no prayers in the temple for more than two months.

Pilgrims are to be allowed access to the region, although parts of it remain cut off.  However, the state government has deployed police to guard entry points and limit the numbers attempting the 19 km trek up to the temple.

“We have to restrict entry,” Raghvendra Langar, additional district magistrate, told ucanews.com. “All the trek routes were washed away in the floods and the new ones are being made. In case of a landslide or rain there is a chance of more loss of life.”

A decision will be taken at the end of September on whether the new tracks are safe enough to allow more pilgrims.

The temple is expected to stay open until November 5. It usually closes annually from November to May because of snow in the region, in the foothills of Himalaya. 

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