The three-day-long pilgrimage to the 14,700 feet high Kailash Kund commenced here Saturday with a limited number of devotees accompanying the holy mace for the second consecutive year due to COVID-19 outbreak, officials said.

The ‘Charri Mubarak’ (holy mace) was taken out from 2100-year-old Vasuki Nag Temple at Gatha around 8.30 am and was joined by another mace from Vasuki Nag Temple Vasik Dhera Bhadarwah, officials said.

Former MLC Naresh Kumar Gupta and senior leader Mast Nath Yogi also participated in the rituals connected with the ancient yatra at Vasik Dhera.

A good number of ‘Nag devotees’ see off the holy mace of Kailash Yatra amidst strict adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour, officials said.

Thousands of devotees from across the country used to take part in the annual yatra which was hit by COVID-19. The administration decided to allow only the holy mace to proceed towards Kailash kund for the second consecutive year.

Additional Deputy Commissioner, Bhadarwah, Rakesh Kumar said tight security arrangements were made for the peaceful conduct of the yatra.

‘Charri Mubarak’ would reach the high altitude lake on Monday morning and the accompanying devotees would perform the traditional prayers there.

“Due to COVID-19 threat, only holy Mace has been allowed to move towards Kailash Kund. We hope that Vasuki Nag will cure all our problems and vanish COVID-19 infection,” Gupta said.

According to local belief, Kailash Kund was the original abode of lord Shiva, but he gave it to Vasuki Nag before moving to Manmahesh in Bharmour area of Himachal Pradesh.

The pilgrimage, which commences on the 14th day after ‘Shravan Purnima’, is considered as one of the toughest as pilgrims have to trek 21 Km steep Kailash mountains range to reach the holy Kund (lake), where devotees take a dip in the ice-cold water to take the blessings of serpent God, Gupta said.