President Pranab Mukherjee offers prayers at Badrinath temple

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President Pranab Mukherjee offered prayers at the Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand as its portals were reopened to devotees after the traditional six-month winter break in the early hours on Saturday.

Amid chants of vedic hymns and the blowing of conch- shells, the gates were opened at 4.15 AM by the chief priest of the temple, Ishwari Prasad Namboodiri, with thousands of devotees in attendance. The president arrived at about 8.25 AM to pay obeisance at the 7th century shrine located 10,170 feet above sea-level.

Accompanied by Uttarakhand Governor Krishna Kant Paul, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, and state Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj, Mukherjee spent two hours at the temple, leaving its premises by 10.25 AM for the Jollygrant Airport from where he was scheduled to depart for Delhi.

The reopening of the Badrinath shrine marks the full- fledged beginning of the Chardham Yatra season in Uttarakhand with the other three pilgrimage spots on the circuit having opened already.

The reopening of Kedarnath, another major temple on the circuit, had seen Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering prayers there on May 3.

The president had begun his two-day visit to Uttarakhand on Friday from Dehradun where he addressed the convocation of the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy. After spending the night at the Raj Bhawan in the state capital, Mukherjee had left for Badrinath this morning to pay obeisance there as part of his itinerary. (DNA)
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