For the ongoing Manimahesh pilgrimage, two helicopter operators – Aryan Aviation Pvt Ltd and UTair India Pvt Ltd – today started flights between Bharmour township and Gauri Kund, nearly three km short of Manimahesh lake in the mountainous terrain of Bharmour in Chamba district. These flights would continue till August 29, the final bath day of the pilgrimage on the occasion of Radhashtami. Fifty per cent seats have been allocated online, while the rest can be booked offline at ticket counters of the heli-taxi service at Bharmour. Giving this information here, the Deputy Commissioner of Chamba, Sudesh Mokhta said, over the phone, that, “the pilgrims could avail the chopper facility from Bharmour to Gauri Kund. Helicopter fare from Bharmour to Gauri Kund and back was Rs 2,980 and the one-way fare was Rs 1,490, and that these flights will continue between 6 am and 7 pm, also that one helicopter would ferry six passengers, including the pilot, per trip,”. One way flight takes six minutes. Mokhta said that ADM Bharmour, who is chairperson of Manimahesh Trust, is the mela Officer to supervise the Manimahesh Yatra arrangements along with staff strength of 140 officials. As many as 13 rescue teams and 11 medical teams had been formed for the benefit of the pilgrims. Provision of 67 langars has also been permitted en route the pilgrimage route.“So far over one lakh tourists have taken holy bath in the Manimahesh Lake. “Keeping in view the huge influxes of pilgrims, more than 5 lakh pilgrims are expected to visit Manimahesh this year”, Mokhta said. The itinerary of Manimahesh had been divided into 13 sectors from the safety, security and regulation of traffic point of view, he said adding that 700 security personnel had been deployed for the purpose. There was complete ban on animal sacrifice, Mokhta stated, adding that upholding the sanctity of the pilgrimage was a priority. The fortnight-long pilgrimage to Manimahesh, in Chamba district, had begun from August 15 on the eve of Sri Krishna Janamashtami and would culminate on the occasion of Sri Radhashtami on August 29 with religious fervor. The holy Manimahesh Lake is situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet while the Kailash Mount is at an altitude of 18,000 feet. Set in the Bharmour mountainous valley of Chamba district, Manimahesh Lake is about 216 km away from Pathankot railhead, via Chamba.