Uttarkashi: The annual Chardham Yatra in Uttarakhand began today on the auspicious occasion of Akshay Tritiya, with the portals of Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines thrown open to devotees amid elaborate rituals and chanting of Vedic hymns.

After being closed for nearly six months during winter, the gates of the Gangotri shrine were reopened at 1:15 PM and that of Yamunotri shrine were thrown open at 12:15 pm, officials of the temple committees concerned said.

The palanquin carrying the idol of Goddess Ganga reached the Gangotri temple at around 10 am from her winter abode in Bhairav Ghati. Special prayers were conducted by the priests for over three hours before the formal opening of the portals, secretary of Gangotri temple committee Suresh Semwal said.

A similar ceremony was held at Yamunotri, secretary of the temple committee Kriteshwar Uniyal said. The portals of Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines, the other two major temples of the Chardham Yatra, are scheduled to be reopened on April 29 and April 30 respectively. All these Himalayan temples in Uttarakhand are visited by lakhs of pilgrims from across the country and abroad every year. (PTI)