A year on, flood memories fail to deter pilgrims

Longing to go again

A year on, flood memories fail to deter pilgrims

Saturday marked the first anniversary of the Uttarakhand tragedy in which hundreds of pilgrims were washed away in the floods triggered by torrential rains in the hilly state. 

Thousands were stranded at pilgrim centres, praying for their lives for days together as they remained cut off from the rest of the world. The memories of their close brush with death are still alive in survivors.

A N Prasad and his wife Shubha, who had been on a pilgrimage, recall the their horror. “We left Hardwar and reached Gowrikund on June 14. We were put up in a lodge at Gowrikund and were scheduled to leave for Kedaranath at 5 am when our tour manager informed that our departure will be delayed since it was raining. We started our journey in the noon, but had to return due to heavy rainfall.” 

Recounting the flood fury, Prasad said that he and his wife were at first shifted from the ground floor to the first floor of the lodge. 

“ From the window we saw Mandakini river  in full spate. The gushing waters submerged the trees and buildings on its path. After about an hour we heard people shouting to vacate rooms and shift to the top floor as water was entering the rooms. We did as were told, but in vain. Water gushed into the rooms and power went of.”

“We jumped over the sheds nearby to find safe places as the lodge building was shaking. Finally we found a shed at a distance. With the help of a Rajasthani family we got a place to rest,”he said.

Prasad said that there were small children and women who were crying for water. “I soaked my handkerchief in rain water and quenched their thirst. A team of Army jawans rescued as on the fourth day. We reached Delhi on June 23 and later came to Bangalore.”

The horrific experience, however, has not dampened his spirits. Prasad said that his pilgrimage was incomplete and he will visit the place in future.

Lalji Ladharam Patel (54) was on a pilgrimage with his wife and 23 relatives from Gujarat.

He said: “We were staying at a hotel seven kilometres away from Gowrikund. The hotel staff asked us to vacate immediately as the building was being marooned. We stepped out only to see that the vehicles in the parking lot had all been washed away.”

Shobha Karandlaje, the Member of Parliament, who too was stranded in the floods said that she had scary memories of the tragedy.

Speaking at a meeting here on Saturday, Karandlaje said that her pilgrimage ended halfway and she was thrilled to travel again.

“I had planned to go this year too, but cancelled the tour since roads are still not motorable and helicopter is an expensive option,”she said.

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