Chamoli: President Pranab Mukherjee offered prayers at the Badrinath temple for the 'welfare of the country' when its portals were reopened for devotees after a winter break of six months.
Amid chants of traditional hymns and blowing of conch- shells, the shrine was opened in the wee hours on Saturday.
Thousands of devotees had waited throughout the night in chilling temperatures to get a glimpse of Lord Vishnu who is believed to be seated in Padmasana.
Mukherjee along with Uttarakhand Governor KK Paul, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat and other dignitaries arrived here at about 8.45 AM. Even though a palki was kept ready for him, Mukherjee preferred to walk to the shrine despite the slightly cold weather and high altitude.
In the sanctum of the temple, the president offered prayers for the 'welfare of the country' amidst chanting of vedic prayers by the chief priest, Ishwari Prasad Namboodiri.
One of the most revered Hindu shrines, the 7th century temple was decked up with marigold flowers to welcome the president. 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.
Senior officials of the administration, including the commissioner, Garhwal range, were present during the occasion. An emergency team of doctors from Gopeshwar district hospital were also in place along with the arrangements of emergency services.
While coming out of temple after a brief stay of 45 minutes, the president was cheered by the waiting crowd who wanted a catch a glimpse of him.
Mukherjee waved back to them while crossing the bridge over river Alaknanda. 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.