Kedarnath/Badrinath: After spending the night in a cave near Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath temple, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday thanked the Election Commission for granting him permission for the visit, saying he remained entirely cut-off from the outside world and got two days of “rest”.
Modi reached Kedarnath on Saturday and, after offering supplication to the Hindu deity Shiva at the shrine, went inside the cave to meditate at 2pm wearing a saffron colour shawl.
He came out at 7am on Sunday and then left for Badrinath, another important Hindu shrine, where he ended his two-day visit to the state.
Dressed in a kurta-pyjama with a shawl wrapped around him, the prime minister walked down from the cave on a hill to the Kedarnath temple with the help of a cane.
“I did not ask for anything. I don’t believe in asking because God only wants us to give. All I want is ‘Baba’ Kedarnath bestows his blessings not just upon India but entire mankind,” he told reporters outside the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath after offering prayers.
He also thanked the Election Commission for allowing him to undertake the visit, saying he got two days of “rest” there.
The EC had given its nod to Modi’s visit while “reminding” the Prime Minister’s Office that the model code of conduct is still in force.
Polling for the seventh and the last phase of the general election was held Sunday.
Modi said he remained totally cutoff from the outside world as there was no communication link to the cave he stayed in for 24 hours and he kept looking at the shrine through a small window.
He said, “I am fortunate, that I am getting the opportunity to come to Kedarnath for many years.”
This is Modi’s fourth visit in the last two years to the temple, which is at a height of 3,500 metres near the Mandakini river.
Taking note of the redevelopment work at Kedarnath, which was devastated by a series of storms in 2013, Modi said there is a dedicated team deployed for rehabilitation and that he too had taken stock of works through video-conferencing with authorities.
“The work at Kedarnath is now progressing at a proper pace. People, besides visiting Dubai and Singapore, should also visit Kedarnath and other places in India,” he said.
The prime minister then boarded an Indian Air Force helicopter to Badrinath, another temple in Uttarakhand’s “char dham” religious circuit, dedicated to deity Vishnu.
Modi offered prayers at the innermost sanctum in Badrinath.
Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee chief Mohan Prasad Thapliyal said the prime minister offered prayers at the temple for around 20 minutes and was given a greeting card made on a “bhojpatra” (birch leaves) by the temple’s priests.
He was also given a shawl by the residents of Mana village, he said.
The prime minister took a walk inside the temple complex and later, shook hands with the devotees and locals, Thapliyal said, adding that Modi also met pilgrims waiting near the shrine.
Members of the committee met the prime minister at the shrine’s guest house and submitted a memorandum stressing upon the need to expand the temple’s premises and improving telecommunication services at Badrinath.
Modi asked temple authorities to play an active role in providing better facilities to pilgrims visiting the shrine, Thapliyal said.
The prime minister reached Badrinath in an IAF helicopter, which landed at an army helipad near the shrine, and reached the temple by road, he said, adding that stringent security arrangements were in place.
The portals of the Kedarnath and Badrinath shrines reopened for devotees earlier this month after the winter break.