On 19th June, finally, we had come back to Rishikesh from the upper side of the lower Himalayan region located near Srinagar in Uttrakhand after that tragedy caused by heavy flood took place in the year 2013. Let’s go in flashback with me before returned to Rishikesh.
We were there not for any holidays but to welcome the guests those are about to come in our adventure camp located in beautiful village “Bagbaan” close to River Alaknanda on 15th of June 2013. There was one family checked in at our camp on the same day. The weather was dark and raining continuously. However, I went to Srinagar with one of our camp’s kitchen staff to bring the kitchen supply for dinner for our guests. Rain continued all the way, we returned around 7 at night from the local market. Due to heavy and continues rain the electricity was gone completely since that morning and the emergency lights were on to fight against the dark night. There was a cute girl in that family and luckily her 8th birthday on the same date. We had brought a cake for celebrating her birthday as her father requested us prior to check in. We celebrated her birthday follow with delicious dinner. All the members of the family were happy to celebrate the birthday in our adventure camp. They went to their allotted tents at 10 after full enjoyment. I was little worried about them due to non-stop cats & dogs rain. The sound of the floating river was scary seems like a tiger roaring in the jungle close to our camp.
On the morning of 16th June, we saw that the river’s water level has been increased and rapidly increasing hour after hour. Around 10 AM the guests were ready to check out for their further journey. They took their breakfast pay the bill for our services and checked out finally. I told them to take care with goodbye.
All the staffs were engaged in rolling off the tents as per my direction because the river had almost touched us. The river had been converted in an ocean with full of floating garbage including death bodies of human, animals, Houses waste, big trees, vehicles etc. Our time had over and we were trying to save our Swiss luxury tents but it was not easy to move quickly because all the tents were completely wet and 10 times heavier from the normal weight. The local peoples of the village have come out to help us however we could not save all the 14 tents and belongings of the kitchen. We moved towards the upper area of the main road along with some saved goods to keep them safe. Around 12 Noon our adventure camp had completely vanished and went into the beneath of river Alaknanda which had been taken a different catastrophic form. We gathered some of our saved linen and other items of the camp near a small waterfall source close to NH and approx 100 meters far from the campsite. One of the villagers helped us to bring the goods in his house to keep safe. We spent that night in local electricity office with the help of caretaker posted in that office. Due to continuing raining all the cell phone networks were gone including major electricity failure. Although we are in a bit low altitude than Kedarnath, however, we could have guessed the scarcity of high altitude lands like Kedarnath and Badrinath and other places over there. That night was too long and we couldn’t even sleep because of mosquitoes and other worms those are spreading in the entire surrounding area.
Next morning, when we reached near our campsite nothing has appeared except quicksand brought by the river including fishes and garbage. The water level of the river had been started going down around noon and at 3 pm. It went down to the prior level and the huge rock which was located in the middle of the river was visible once again. The rain had stopped since afternoon. Some villagers came to inspect their land near the river and told us that Uttarkashi district is most affected and thousands of people died due to flood and reason of this flood is cloud burst near Kedarnath temple. The upper area of Kedarnath is full of glaciers which melt down along with sudden cloud burst and finally converted into a gigantic monster form to destroy everything came in the way except holy Lord Shiva temple.
Rishikesh- Badrinath NH flew on many major points such as Devprayag, Srinagar, Karnprayag etc. Thousands of vehicles trapped on NH and not able to move a single inch. We are also hungry and move from there in search of any local restaurant nearby village. Luckily we found an open dhaba just 2 km away from the village.
Next Morning we got to know that highway has been cleared temporarily and few public means of transport are moving now. I and my friend came from Delhi by our bike so I deport my two camp staff by Bus to Rishikesh and I went with my friend by bike. En route we saw the condition of different places that was pathetic. The road was completely washed out on the different point and fill by soil and stone chips so that vehicles could move on a temporary basis.
Now let’s come from above flashback, we were very tired due to this hectic bike journey over 100 km from Bagbaan to Rishikesh. Around 7 pm we checked in a hotel close to Luxmanjhula. Actually, the manager of that hotel was known to us and he told us that Rishikesh is almost vacant due to flood; a city which is full of the tourists in this season has been silenced. We too absorbed the same even his hotel was completely vacant that day.
After dinner at 10, we thought about a small ride to Luxmanjhula to see the condition of Holy Ganga and we moved that way which is 500 meters far from the hotel. All the streets were in complete silent. No movement on those streets which connects to Luxmanjhula from many sides. However, we reached the middle of the bridge and saw that there is a man sitting on the surface. We were not able to see his face due to poor visibility over there. My friend stopped the bike and told him that you are the single person to whom we saw in this area. We told him about us that how our camp site vanished and some other formal conversation happened between us. Nobody was there except three of us at that time. After few minutes we said bye and moved ahead on Luxmanjhula to take a u-turn from another side because you can’t turn your bike on that bridge due to very less breadth. We came back in 30-35 seconds at the same place (middle of the bridge) where we met from that stranger but he was not there, we saw ahead on the bridge but he was not seen to us. My friend said where has he gone in few seconds? I am also surprised and thought did he jump into the river because it is impossible to cross half of the distance from the middle of the bridge in few seconds. We were scared and moved fast from there and even we didn’t see him on that only path which connects the street to Luxmanjhula.
We reached hotel around 11.30, went to our room & tried to sleep after this incident and simultaneously think who that person was? He must be a genuine holy spirit or the person from another world, who talked to us in a philosophical way and tell us human can’t win from nature at all.
The lesson Learned from Uttarakhand tragedy:
We experienced many things during this travel and learned to survive from the worst situations. Since all these incidents happened in beautiful Uttrakhand, our respect to the Mother Nature boosted up greater than ever which is sustained so far and will always be sustained till lifetime.