'We had decided to embrace death'

'We had decided to embrace death'

Survivors recall horrific experience at Mantralaya

“People now call me ‘Punarjanma’ Lokesh. I should consider myself fortunate,” said Lokesh, a former councillor from Ramamurthynagar, while recalling the two days spent in Mantralaya.

Lokesh and six of his family left for Mantralaya on Thursday morning and reached in the evening.

“It was raining heavily when we reached there and we were the last ones to complete the darshan around 9 pm. They closed the gates as water started inundating the temple. After receiving prasadam we went to a lodge,” said Lokesh.

“Late night, heavy rain woke us up and we realised that water had started entering the ground floor where our room was located. The hotel management shifted all of us to first floor. But before long water entered into the first, second and then even the third floor. At around 3.30, we were all cramped in the fourth floor.

“By morning, we were completely surrounded by water. There were 30 persons in the hotel, and many were diabetic, some of whom fainted due to lack of food. I had just a packet of biscuits and seven of us lived on that pack,” Lokesh recalled.
He said he was mentally prepared to die. “Even if the water level receded, what if the entire building collapsed? I closed the door, sat inside the room and prayed. We decided to embrace death.”

“However, the water started receding the next day and by evening it decreased further. We could not drive our car as it was submerged in water. We travelled to a village named Emmigeri, about 8 kilometre away from Mantralaya, by walk. We managed to get a bus on Saturday evening and reached Bangalore on Sunday morning.

A similar experience was recounted by Murali, a pilgrim who was stranded at Mantralaya for two days. “We were holed up inside our hotel for two whole days. There was water up to 10 feet outside and we were all on the terrace,” he said.

Murali, who was travelling to Mantralaya with his wife and child, had to stop at Raichur  initially and took a bus as the rail route to Mantralaya was blocked. “We took a bus, finished darshana but on our way back a bridge on the route was inundated and we had to spend two nights at Mantralaya.”