Prime Minister Narendra Modi today offered prayers at Badrinath temple in the upper reaches of Uttarakhand, a day after he spent hours meditating inside a cave in Kedarnath in the hill state.
He waved at pilgrims who had gathered around the massive gate of the temple as he walked past them and into the main area, where priests greeted him.
In a crisp white kurta and blue jacket, PM Modi was seen standing on the steps of the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, located at a height of over 10,000 feet in the Himalayas, turning once more towards the audience with his hands folded before taking the few flight of stairs into the temple. Then he offered prayers at the innermost sanctum.
PM Modi's retreat to Kedarnath and Badrinath temples after weeks of high-octane campaigning across the country in the middle of summer coincides with the last of the seven-round national election, whose results will be out next week.
He has thanked the Election Commission for allowing him to visit the hill state, though the election body reminded him that the Model Code of Conduct, which lists out dos and don'ts during election season, was still in force. "I am grateful to the Election Commission for a two-day reprieve to spend time in solitude..." he said.
The poll body has cleared PM Modi in six instances of alleged election code violation, sparking protests from the opposition parties. Adding fuel to the controversy was Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa skipping meetings of the full commission in what was seen as his act of protest against the Election Commission not reflecting his dissent in deciding Model Code violations.
A carousel of photos of PM Modi meditating inside the Kedarnath cave, which was shared widely on social media, was well-received by his supporters - though meme factories also went into high-production mode over the question of meditation under the glare of cameras.
The Trinamool Congress today complained to the Election Commission that PM Modi's "widely televised" visit to Kedarnath shrine in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand was a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.