‘Soon as we stepped out,the building collapsed,it was terrifying’

Pilgrims from the national capital recount the nightmare that nearly consumed them

Written by Priyanka Sharma | New Delhi | Published: June 22, 2013 3:28:40 am

It was the local police’s insistence that they move out of a gurdwara in Govindghat that saved a group of 60 pilgrims from Delhi.

They had just stepped out when the gurdwara was felled and swallowed by the floods that have ravaged Uttarakhand.

“We had left for Hemkund Sahib but it was raining heavily so we halted at a local gurdwara. Around 10 in the night,we felt tremors,” said Neetu Hora of Defence Colony. They were trying to figure out if it was an earthquake when the transformer outside exploded and water started moving in. “Some local people pleaded that we should vacate the building but since it was pouring,we did not know what to do. Then water rose to the staircase of the gurdwara and in a few moments washed away some of the steps and gushed in,” Hora recalled. “We grabbed our wallets and some basic things and moved out. As soon as we stepped out,the building fell. It was terrifying.”

The group decided to stay in their bus but it was gone,buried in a road cave-in. They,however,found another bus and took shelter in it. “We were drenched and left with nothing as our bags has been washed away. We slept in the our wet clothes,” Hora said. “The next morning,we started climbing up the mountain. Most among us were senior citizens and they did not have their medicines. We carried on without food or water for two days and,with the help of army men,reached the other side of the mountain. If we are alive,it is because of those army men.”

Another group of nine people from Delhi was stranded on the way to Kedarnath and Badrinath for five days. They were evacuated to Dehradun Friday.

“We were on way to Kedarnath and had no information about the flood or the cloudburst,” said Veena Dubey,a teacher in Dwarka. “Our car got stuck so we began to walk ahead looking for help. It was then we realised how bad the situation was. We spent the night on the road near Yamunotri. At dawn,we saw cars and trees floating in the water and caved-in roads on the other side.”

They climbed up a hill,the only way out,and found a village. “We requested the people to let us stay for a few days. They were very cooperative. There,we found many other pilgrims,” Dubey said. The group joined the other pilgrims and walked till they reached a safer area and were rescued.

Some visitors to Uttarakhand can’t thank their stars enough for escaping the ordeal. “We were on our way to Rishikesh for the weekend. But one of our friends got news of the death of a relative,so we headed back,” said Rupesh Dutt of Mukherjee Nagar. “We reached Delhi and heard about the tragedy that had struck Rishikesh the previous night.”

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