The nature sneaked up on them with all its fury but they were not subdued. Instead,they took on the elements head on and came through with little more than tired,drained bodies.
They can be excused that,the 43 pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh,for not often would they have walked about 40 km of perilous landslide-buried paths through ravaged landscapes as they did over the past few days.
The pilgrims to Kedarnath were at Chadrapuri near Gaurikund when the water moved in and hillsides came crashing down. The bus which took us to Chandrapuri was swept away and our hotel was damaged, said Radhika Prasad. We climbed up a hill and took shelter there. The pilgrims,several of them women,spent the night there and the next day and night going up and down a range of hills that stretched before them.
Then they came down to a village. People we found on the way guided us to the road to Rudraprayag. We kept walking. We spent five nights in the forest, said Ganpati. In the forest,the men in the group would take turns to keep guard while others slept. Thankfully,nothing bad happened, Ganpati said.
On Friday,the pilgrims reached Rudraprayag,to the astonishment of whoever came to know about their journey. They are now in a relief camp,waiting to be driven to Rishikesh.
The pilgrims have with them the water they had collected from Yamunotri,Gangotri and Badrinath.
We planned to collect water from the Mandakini river at Kedarnath and take all of it to Rameshwaram and Amarnath, said Nathu Singh.
We will keep the water. If luck favours,we will collect water from Kedarnath next year and then take our journey to Rameshwaram and Amarnath.