Dehradun: The annual Char Dham pilgrimage has begun with the reopening of the portals of Badrinath shrine in the Garhwal hills after the winter break amid chants of Vedic hymns.
Elaborate rituals preceded the formal opening of the Himalayan temple, located at a height of 10,279 feet, on Wednesday, a senior Badrinath-Kedarnath Samiti official said.
The other three Himalayan temples on the circuit -- Kedranath, Gangotri and Yamunotri -- had reopened on May 9. With reopening of Badrinath temple, the annual Char Dham yatra has begun.
Badrinath shrine Chief Priest Ishwar Prasad Nambudiri threw the temple doors open in the wee hours in the presence of Mandir Samiti officials and thousands of devotees amid chants of Vedic hymns and "Jai Badri Vishal".
Over 8,000 devotees visited the temple, located on the banks of Alaknanda river, on the first day, he said. Former Uttarakhand chief minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri also offered prayers at the shrine.
The four Himalayan temples are closed every year with the onset of the winter when they remain snowbound.