Vasumathy Rajagopalan was on a pilgrimage tour to Badrinath recently when the Uttarakhand tragedy struck with floods and landslides. Here is her first person account of her experience –
We had been on a pilgrimage trip to Badrinath last fortnight. Though we could not make it to Badri due to the nature’s fury, I would like to share my horrifying experiences with my fellow Mylaporeans!
My husband, my sister and I joined a group of about 40 people to Badrinath, Haridwar and Rishikesh on 12th June. We reached Delhi on 14th morning, and proceeded straightaway to Rishikesh in 4 Tempo Traveller vans.
On 15th morning we proceeded to Pipalkoti ,which is about 140kms from Rishikesh, reached the place accompanied by the rain for most of the day. The next morning at 4.45 we left for Badrinath enroute Joshinmut, with rain unrelenting all night, about 60 kms .
We had just covered about 6 kms, when we found a line of vehicles queuing up and seen the first landslide, boulders strewn around, mud, water and rocks of varying sizes pouring down the slope from the above and tearing the road and rushing downn the slope to the violent Alakanandha river below.
The first taste of pending disaster waiting to happen!!.
Our Tempo Traveller drivers were very cool about the land slide and informed us that local ghat section administrative services would come with a Porklain and clear the debries and form a path for the vehicles to proceed. The same thing happened and we reached Joshimut.
All the while the rain was pouring down. Our organiser was optimistic about rain stopping and ensuring our journey to Badri. We were all chanting Vishnu Sahasranamam and praying to the rain god to show merci.
At Joshimut, there were about 15 vehicles waiting in a row to enter Badrinath whose roads were controlled by Army!
We waited there for about 2 hours. The wait continued, hopes receeded and the annoncement came that Badri road was damaged and leaving for Badri was not possible for that day. Like our organiser, everybody scrambled for accomadation
There started our waiting..it never stopped raining for about two days. We heard news of damaged roads and broken bridges, that we can neither go down nor go up as the roads on both sides are heavily damaged! That day was when we all started to panic, wondering if we could ever reach our homes!
The next day, the Rain God relented and answered our prayers for a safe return!
We woke up to a quiet weather and no rain nor dark cloud but we waited for clearance from the Army to go down. By afternoon we got permission to go downwards.
But when we passed Karnaprayag which was close to Rudraprayag,we were in for trouble again – we could see a line of vehicles for about 3,4 kms. The roads were badly damaged and rubble of debris strewn all around.
We waited the whole night on the road waiting for clearance for road worthiness but to no avail.
The next morning we were advised by an Army personnel to take a round about route to Delhi, as the roads further to Haridwar and Rishikesh were worse. While we were waiting we could see trees uprooting atop and falling down, bringing with them mountain rocks – a nightmarrish experience indeed!
Though we were all disappointed with our disastrous Badri trip, we decided to take a route around through Nainital, which was not as bad as the earlier one but this route was narrow and we were praying throughout for a safe journey.
A consoling factor is that we could see Adhi Badri on the way, which was controlled by the Archaelogical Dept. We also visited Kurukshtra on the way and reached Delhi on time to catch our train back home!
We returned to a warm welcome by our friends, relatives and well wishers..but we had a taste of the horror and the intensity of the situation only while watching TV at home. We had no means of communication out there.
I will be failing in my duty if I do not mention the services of our Armed personnel for their tireless, dedicated services at this time of national calamity!
– Reported by Vasumathy Rajagopalan ( seen 2nd from left in second picture),
1, Sriman Srinivasa Road, Alwarpet,
Chennai 600 018
Ph: 2499 7187