Srinagar, Sep 4 (ANI): Devotees from all over the country participated in a Hindu pilgrimage, which kicked off for the third consecutive year on Sunday, to offer prayers at the ancient Gangabal temple of Lord Shiva located at around 12,000 feet in Jammu and Kashmir.
The centuries-old pilgrimage centre, which is a historic and religious place for Kashmiri Pandits, is situated in the foothills of Harmukh range and is considered to be the holy abode of Lord Shiva.
Gangabal is also known as 'Harmukut Ganga' and it is believed that this place is pious as Haridwar, where pilgrims perform prayers and immerse ashes of the dead.
All Party Migrant Coordination Committee (APMCC) has conducted the Yatra.
APMCC Chairman, Vinod Pandit, said the annual Gangabal Yatra was organised to save the cultural and religious history of Kashmiri Pandits.
"This 'Harmukut Ganga' is located around 14,500 feet above the sea level. In this Harmukut Ganga the Hindus since ancient times used to immerse the ashes of the dead of our families. We are still carrying forward that tradition. This Harmukut Ganga' holds the same importance for Hindus as the Ganga which flows in Haridwar," said Pandit.
Rattan Lal, a pilgrim, said through this traditional pilgrimage the devotees prayed for the peace of the souls of the departed.
"We offer libation to our ancestors at the Harmukut Ganga'. We perform special rituals for our ancestors and pray for their souls," said Lal.
One has to trek through a steep ladder-like path known as 'Yamhear' meaning Lord Yama's ladder to reach the sacred lake around the temple
Lord Yama is the Hindu God of Death in Hinduism and Harmukh Gangabal symbolically indicates that to reach the lake one has to undertake a tough and dangerous trek.
The Jammu and Kashmir Government and the Indian Army has provided all arrangements to the Kashmiri Pandits for this traditional pilgrimage. (ANI)