Rolling bus, rain of boulders still haunt TN pilgrims

Emotional outbursts at city airport as visitors to flood-hit Uttarakhand return home, recount devastating moments they spent in the hill State as a Himalayan Tsunami lashed

Published: 22nd June 2013 08:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd June 2013 08:55 AM   |  A+A-

What started off as a pleasant pilgrimage in the cool climes of Uttarkhand for some devotees from Tamil Nadu turned out to be a hair-raising week-long experience.

Swollen rivers gushing forth menacingly, broken bridges, land slides, crumbling houses and vanished roads — the pilgrims saw it all during their arduous journey back to Delhi.

A sizable chunk of pilgrims, who arrived on Friday, were stranded in little- known small towns like Rampuri on their way to Badrinath after visiting Kedarnath. They eventually had to cancel their Badrinath plan and return to Haridwar en route to Delhi.

Rajambal Kabirdoss, an elderly devotee from Saidapet, said people like her had no idea about the dangers of trekking in the hill State.

“A relative tripped and fell on a sloped road. When we stretched our hands to help her, we happened to see the swollen river below rushing past at breakneck speed. We were alarmed. What could have happened to her if she was not rescued promptly, I shudder to even think,” she said.

“It was terrifying to learn that places like Kedarnath that we had just visited had been literally swept away by what they now call a Himalayan Tsunami,” said Renukadevi Selvaraj (56) of Villivakkam, who was among the group of 57 led by tour operator Sivaprakasam.

The ‘pilgrimage’ was something she would never forget in her life time.

Recounting the terrifying days, Renukadevi said she was among the group that saw a bus rolling down from a narrow slippery ghat road in front of them, something they had seen only in films. “It sent shivers down our spines.”

On another day, while the group was walking on a slushy pathway, a woman got killed after she was hit by a ‘hillock like boulder’. “It was a real shocker. We became very sober,” she said. It was raining continuously and there was no proper facility for lodging let alone availability of taxis, buses or anything to commute.

“For the first time in our lives, we cooked at roadside shelters and survived on bread and biscuits,” she said. After the painstaking journey, they reached Haridwar and later Delhi.

On seeing her mother step into the arrival lounge, Renukadevi’s daughter Subashini could no longer hold her tears back. She ran into her mother’s arms and cried for a while. “I have no words to speak or explain our grief. It was a painful wait for us,” Subashini said.


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