Survivors recollect the deluge and thereafter

Pilgrims who returned say they can't believe they are alive

Survivors recollect the  deluge and thereafter

“It’s a rebirth for me.” That was the first reaction of Neelakantha, one of the pilgrims from Bangalore who had gone to Uttarakhand, after he reached the City by train.

“That was the rainfall of a lifetime. I witnessed many people being washed away in floods. I did not know what to do when I noticed hillocks collapsing and being reduced to rubble. Hundreds of horses drowned like toys. That was the time when I told myself that death had come and I wouldn’t survive.

Now, I am in the City and I consider it my rebirth. I don’t know how I survived,” Neelakantha, who had been to the flood-ravaged state with his wife Selvi and son Ashwin, said. He had left Delhi for Bangalore on the Karnataka Express train on June 22, along with a team of 40 pilgrims.

Sadashiva, one of those in the 40-member team which had left for North India on May 30, shared his experiences with Deccan Herald.

“We went to Kashi after visiting Delhi and Agra. We reached Gowrikund on June 14 after visiting Kashi. We went to Kedarnath and returned to our rooms in a lodge at Gowrikund. It rained heavily throughout the night. We had never seen such rainfall in our lifetime.

The lodge manager said such heavy rainfall was common there during monsoon. We realised that the river Ganges was flowing above danger level mark and a building adjacent to our lodge had collapsed. The hotel staff directed us to evacuate. The hotel where we stayed too collapsed in a couple of hours,” he recalled.

The bridges on the way to Seethapura had collapsed.

“I noticed many devotees being washed way in floods. The Army took us to Guptakashi from Seethapura. We went to Haridwar from there on June 21 and stayed at the Raghavendra temple. A rescue team from the State sent us to Delhi on the night of June 22,” Selvi said.

Sadashiva said many pilgrims faced difficulties in getting drinking water and food and appreciated efforts of the State rescue team. He said the Karnataka government bore the expenses of travel and food till they reached Bangalore.

Similar were the experiences of a few pilgrims from Kunigal, Nelamangala and Nagarbhavi, who had gone to Rishikesh.

Leelavathi, a resident of Kunigal, thanked the rescue team and said she had given up the hope of returning to the City alive, due to heavy rains and floods.

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