BHADERWAH: The holy mace of Kailash Yatra returned to its abode here after traditional rituals at a 14,700 feet high lake in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Wednesday.
The annual yatra to Kailash Kund (lake) was restricted to a small group of priests and devotees this year due to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three-day pilgrimage began on August 16 when a group of priests left for Kailash Kund with the 'Charri Mubarak' (holy mace) from the ancient Vasuki Nag temple at Gatha here.
The yatra was joined by half a dozen 'Charis' enroute.
After night halts at Hayan and Ramtund on August 16 and 17, the officials said the 'Charri Mubarak' reached Kailash Kund on August 18, where the pilgrims took a bath in the lake to take the blessings of Lord Shiva and Vasuki Nag.
According to the local belief, Kailash Kund was the original abode of Shiva but he gave it to Vasuki Nag and went to live at Manmahesh in Bharmour in Himachal Pradesh.
After performing the age-old rituals at Kailash Kund, the mace reached back to its abode on late Tuesday night and was received by enthusiastic followers of Lord Vasuki Nag, the official said.
They said the officers from police and civil administration also joined the holy mace from Sungli village to Vasuki Nag Temple at Gatha.
"The yatra ended peacefully amid adequate security arrangements," Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Bhaderwah, Aadil Rishu said.
He said all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines were followed during the restricted yatra.
The officials said holy maces along with a limited number of pilgrims converged at the high-altitude Kailash Kund after crossing snow filled glaciers to take a dip in the icy lake on the last day of the annual Yatra.
The Kailash Yatra commences on the 14th day after 'Shravan Purnima' and is considered to be one of the toughest pilgrimages as those who undertake it have to trek 21 km of steep Kailash mountain range to reach the holy lake.