Four persons including a woman have died while trekking to Manimahesh Lake in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh, around 405 km from state headquarters Shimla.
Chamba deputy superintendent of police (headquarters) Abhimanyou Verma said there were reports of four bodies being found near Dal Lake enroute to Manimahesh pilgrimage in Bharmour in Chamba district.
“Two bodies have been recovered so far while efforts are being made to trace other bodies,” he said, adding more details regarding the incident were still awaited as no communication could be established with the search and rescue teams.
The persons were going to Manimahesh pilgrimage despite a ban being imposed on it due to Covid pandemic and treacherous trek the journey involves during the ongoing monsoon season.
There were reports that a local who had gone to Dal Lake had found the bodies and one person in an unconscious state after which he informed the local police.
The deceased include a woman and their identity couldn’t be ascertained as yet.
The rescue operations could take around 12-14 hours as the journey to the place involved a treacherous trek.
Police officials believe that the deceased might have died due to lack of oxygen owing to high altitude and extreme weather conditions at the place as Manimahesh, located in Pir Panjal range of Himalayas, was witnessing snowfall and heavy rains since the last 2 days.
However, the exact cause behind the deaths could be ascertained after postmortem once the bodies are brought back to Bharmour, police officials added.
Police said despite the ban on pilgrimage by the district administration, some people were venturing on dangerous trek using alternate routes, making it tough for the administration to stop such trekkers.
Only Bhadrawah and four other groups are allowed to go on Manimahesh pilgrimage, an annual feature but others were flouting norms on the pretext of these groups and were falling prey to mishaps.
It is worth mentioning that Manimahesh Lake, located around 26 km from Bharmour in Budhil Valley at an altitude of 13,000 ft at the foot of Kailash peak, is one of the major pilgrimages of the state.
An annual pilgrimage dedicated to Lord Shimla is held on the site and a fair is held at the lake which attracts thousands of pilgrims to Manimahesh Lake every year to take a dip in holy water.