Shimla: Devotees across Himachal Pradesh took dips in rivers on Thursday to mark 'Makar Sankranti', considered a holy day.
The devotees were seen congregating at Tattapani, 50 km from the state capital, and Manikaran, home to a Sikh shrine in Kullu district, for holy dips in the Satluj and Parvati rivers respectively, officials said.
Tattapani and Manikaran are known for hot water springs with high sulphur concentration.
For the first time, the natural and prominent hot springs located along the Satluj in Tattapani disappeared after the construction of the 800 MW Koldam hydroelectric power project executed by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). Its reservoir has submerged the hot springs.
"The two artificial hot springs created by the NTPC in the vicinity of Tattapani are not functional so far.
"One or two old ones but smaller in size still exist in the town and the devotees are performing rituals there," Shimla resident Mohit Sood told IANS over phone from Tattapani.
This time, there was no official arrangement by the government here as the number of devotees arriving for the ritual has declined, added Sood, who is the press secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.
Earlier, Tattapani saw more than 25,000 devotees offering prayers during a holy bath on Makar Sankranti at natural hot water springs there.
The devotees also took holy dip in Vashist temple, located on the outskirts of the popular tourist resort Manali.
The temple is situated on the left bank of Beas river, also known for its hot springs.
Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of the country.
It also marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights.