Rishikesh, Jun 19: The world famous Kedarnath shrine, which attracts thousands of Hindu and other pilgrims from across the world every year, withstood the mighty flash flood that swept through the small, sleepy hill town of Kedarnath.
Scores of buildings were devastated by the swirling flood water, which entered the pilgrim town on Monday, and caused widespread death and destruction in its wake.
Debris from broken houses, mud and slush carried by the river flood entered Kedarnath town, including the shrine. Debris of height ranging from 15 to 20 feet entered the structures adjoining the Kedarnath shrine, though the sanctum sanctorum is intact.
The shrine, one of the four holy 'dhams'(Hindu pilgrimage centres), in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand bore the brunt of torrential rains. About 500 people, including several pilgrims, are said to be missing in the area.
Kukhimath Sub Divisional Magistrate Rakesh Tewari told reporters after his return from Kedarnarth that 50 bodies are lying in areas adjacent to the shine.
"We are right now concentrating on rescuing those who are alive," said Tewari.
The death toll may rise significantly as the water has begun to recede, and relief teams are trying to access the affected areas. A portion of the Kedarnath temple compound was washed away but authorities said no damages were reported to the structure itself.
The Ram Bada area, a busy spot near the temple, has been completely submerged and was not visible from rescue choppers. Army Central Command officials said that nearly 6,000 to 8,000 people are stranded in Kedarnath, 2,500 in Hemkund Sahib and around 8,000 in Badrinath.