Shimla, July 15 (IANS) About 20,000 pilgrims are expected to pay obeisance to Shrikhand Mahadev, a rock Shiva lingam, in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh over 10 days starting from Friday, an official said.

No devotee would be allowed to scale the Shrikhand Mahadev peak at an altitude of 17,600 feet without medical examination, Deputy Commissioner Hans Raj Chauhan told IANS.

For the first time, four rescue and medical teams have been deployed on the entire 30-km one-way trek to handle any emergency, Chauhan said.

To ensure safety, the pilgrims have to get themselves registered with the police before embarking on the journey.

Last year, six devotees died during the pilgrimage.

People start their journey from Jaon, some 150 km from state capital Shimla.

The pilgrims negotiate rugged, cold and inhospitable terrain, which takes at least three days, and conclude their journey at the Shrikhand Mahadev peak where they pay obeisance to the 72-foot tall Shiva Lingam.

The pilgrimage will officially continue until July 25 and authorities are expecting about 20,000 devotees.

Devotees believe that Lord Shiva meditated in Shrikhand and the Pandvas too had trekked to the peak during their 12-year exile.