Gangotri shrine portals close after 23,000 pilgrims visited shrine amid pandemic

Following all rituals and traditional prayers, the portals of Gangotri shrine in Uttarkashi district closed for the winter season at 12:15pm on Sunday.

Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat took to Twitter and said, “The portals of the world famous Gangotri shrine closed for the winter season after offering prayers on the holy festival of Annakut-Govardhan Puja. Around 23,500 devotees and pilgrims visited the shrine this year.”

He further said, “Special guidelines were issued by the government this year with regard to Covid-19 epidemic, which was followed by all the devotees. For this, I thank all the devotees and local people. I pray and wish that Ma Ganga blesses you all.”

After the closing of the portals, the palanquin of Goddess Ganga left for Mukhba in the district, where prayers will be offered for the next six winter months. During the ceremony on Sunday, members of Gangotri Temple Committee Suresh Semwal, Deepak Semwal, Rajesh Semwal, Harish Semwal and police officials were present. All norms of social distancing were followed during the closure of the temple and the departure of Utsav Doli.

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On Monday, the portals of Kedarnath shrine in Rudraprayag district will close at 8:30am on the occasion of Bhai Dooj for the winter season.

The Char Dham shrines were opened for pilgrims on July 1 this year by the state government. Relaxing norms, in the last week of July, Uttarakhand government had decided to allow pilgrims from other states to visit Char Dham shrines with some conditions.

In September, the Uttarakhand government further removed the requirement for a mandatory negative Covid-19 report from pilgrims visiting the shrines.

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