UTTARKASHI: The Char Dham Yatra in Garhwal Himalayas began on Tuesday with the portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri temples in Uttarkashi district being opened ceremoniously on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya.
While the gates of Gangotri shrine were opened at 11.30 am amid chanting of vedic hymns, those of Yamunotri were opened at 1.15 pm amid similar ceremonies in the presence of administrative and temple committee officials besides thousands of devotees.
Before the door opening ceremony began, the idols of goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, the presiding deities of the two temples, were brought from their winter abodes at Mukhba and Kharsali, respectively.
The opening of the famed Himalayan shrines marks the beginning of the Char Dham Yatra which attracts lakhs of devotees from across the country and abroad every year.
The Char Dham Yatra or journey to four holy sites commences from Yamunotri, then proceeds to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath.
It is the backbone Garhwal Himalayas's economy as the livelihood of locals depend on the Yatra.
The doors of Kedarnath are scheduled to be opened on May 9 followed by those of Badrinath a day later on May 10.
The portals of the four Himalayan shrines in Uttarakhand are closed in October-November every year because of heavy snowfall and are reopened in April-May.