Police officials fear the death toll could increase.

Verma said the stampede was triggered when too many pilgrims tried to squeeze into a small area.

However, SR Mardi, the state police chief, said it was caused when a railing on the path leading up the mountain collapsed.

He said rescue workers used a cable car at the temple to help evacuate the injured from the mountain top.

Al Jazeera's Todd Baer in New Delhi, said more than 300 people were injured at the annual religious festival, 250km northeast of India's capital.

"On August 6, 2000, a similar accident occured, but only one person died. But clearly this incident is much more serious," he said.