The ancient Kedarnath shrine has survived the devastating floods in Uttarakhand but virtually everything around it has been destroyed. Here are the dramatic pictures of devastation in Kedarnath.
The famous Kedarnath shrine was virtually submerged in mud in the devastating flash flood that hit the temple town on June 16. This is the first picture of the shrine since the tragedy struck at this Himalayan pilgrim spot.
While the Kedarnath temple was able to stand amid the devastation, almost everything else surrounding it was washed by mud and slush carried by flood waters.
Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Harak Singh Rawat, who visited the shrine after the tragedy, said only the sanctum sanctorum with the Shivling in it is intact, and all around the temple is a sight of destruction.
Almost everyone from Kedarnath town - the epicenter of the devastation - has been rescued, Ajay Chaddha, the Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) said, adding 17 bodies were recovered from Kedarnath today.
Several people en-route to the shrine have been reported missing since the tragedy struck. The exact number of people who were killed is still not clear.
The town, surrounded by majestic snow-capped peaks, was a picture of devastation after the Mandakini river wreaked havoc.
The holy town cannot be accessed by roads, and all evacuations will have to be carried by air. But bad weather is making it tough for helicopters to land there and evacuate pilgrims.
Picture of one of the lanes in the temple town which bore the brunt of Mandakini. Huge boulders and debris washed into the narrow shows the magnitude of the tragedy.
This place was abuzz with pilgrims who had arrived here on Char Dham pilgrimage, which takes place annually between May and October. It also includes Yamunotri, Gangotri and Badrinath.
The shops and houses around Kedarnath temple have either been destroyed or severely damaged.
The Indian Air Force has launched a massive rescue operation today in Uttarakhand with 40 helicopters pressed into service to evacuate stranded people.
The official said there was no trace of a large number of pilgrims who were either headed to or returning from the shrine, built by Adi Shankara around 1,000 years ago.
Picture of one of the shops in Kedarnath devastated by the flash flood.
Officials say pilgrimage to Kedarnath will not be able to resume for three years due to the extensive damage caused by heavy rains and floods in the last few days.