A week before the tragedy took place I was there at the foot of the Garhwal Himalaya in Rishikesh for White Water Rafting from Kaudiyala. The season was actually not for rafting because of early arrival of the monsoon and the river Alakananda seemed violent. But thinking of those guys from “Mountain Dew Ad” and their catchphrase, ‘Darr ke agey jeet hai’ (beyond fear lies victory), we ultimately managed to fight all the rapids. The experience was a fusion of conflict and peace where for moments we heard each other’s deadly squalls but lifetime excitement. At the camp in Shivpuri we met a group of people who were on their way for the Char Dham Yatra. It was their 5th day in Uttarakhand and they were on their way to Uttarkashi, which is the gateway to Gangotri. There was a divine fervor upon their face. The rush of pilgrims from different corners of India for the Char Dham Yatra 2013 witnessed from the month of May and the Uttarakhand Tourism was all set to count a huge number.
A week later…
It was more than a shock to me when the traumatic news moaned the calamity. The cityscape walls, from the Gangetic Plain to Deccan, echoed as the news aired out from News channels. YouTube videos witnessed billions of hit and FM transmitted prayers. Kedarnath was totally demolished and the journalists reported hundreds of dead person, animals hollering and buoying down the violent river and houses and shops desorbed by the landslides. Thousands of pilgrim and tourist who were for the Char Dham Yatra were either stuck or went missing. I prayed for the group I met and my rafting strokes down the river a week before were actually not a conflict against the rapids after catching the sore plot.
Isi ka naam zindagi hai…and life goes on
It was a Sunday morning in the month of September 2013 in New Delhi when I came across Deepanshu, a 15 year old resident from Uttarakhand, who lost his father and sister at the devastating flood. In the event he also lost his home in Rambada, which is close to Kedarnath. What touched me deeply about him was… THE CUTE LITTLE SMILE on his lemon rind face. His mother took shelter in an ashram that is close to Haridwar. “Deepanshu opened a small tea stall in one of the alleyways in Munirka to earn his living and for his mother… he visits his mother every Saturday evening and hand her over Rs. 100 – 150.”
While coming back from home after the Durga Puja in Kolkata, once again I acquainted another resident from Uttarakhand, who lost his shop and his family. He came down to Muzaffarnagar for shelter and to earn his living. Laxmi Prasad was playing carom with a group of peddlers. “His monthly income (from his shop) roved in between Rs. 25000 – 40000 and today his daily collection after shining 10 boots is approximately Rs. 35.”
The good news is that the government is still fighting and the tourism department kept their hope alive. Local residents slowly started to move up in hope and despair and tourists started to clock up. Though employment now is the biggest worry but they are largely depended on tourism secto. Their eyes are on us. “Even a rupee spend by us to buy a candy from them… is equal to pound for them.”
Yatra to Kedarnath and Badrinath shrine already resumed in the month of October after a gap of 3 months woe and worry. On the first day nearly 200 devotees paid obeisance at the two Himalayan shrines.
We will walk hand in hand for the Char Dham Yatra 2014
The Charm Dham Yatra 2014 itineraries are not the biggest hassle for us. What we should do… Leaving behind horrific memories and walk hand in hand for it.
The Char Dham Yatra is one of the Hindu pilgrimage journeys in India that simply defines the virtuality of ‘Land of Gods and Goddesses”. The journey covers almost all the tourist destinations in Uttarakhand including Haridwar and Rishikesh. The Char Dham, the four holy adobes, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are confined under the divine shadow of pristine snow clad peaks and amidst the hues of Garhwal Himalaya. Each legendary shrine is dedicated to Hindu deities… they are the doors of salvation where pilgrims come to wash away the sins and get ‘Moksha’ from the chain of reincarnation in this materialistic world.
Even if you are not planning for the Char Dham Yatra 2014, Uttarakhand is packed with many exotic and quixotic places to visit. Be with your wife or girlfriend, Nanital and Mussoorie offers you an ideal ambiance surrounded by a vast rich verdure, valleys, streams and lakes. Be in a group… Uttarakhand is popular for its trekking destinations like the Valley of Flowers, Pindari Glacier, Roopkund and Nanda Devi Base camp and many more.
The Char Dham Yatra 2014 is going to commence on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritya which falls on last week of April or first week of May and closed after offering pooja during Diwali day in-between mid October to Mid November.
So start moving and get ready for the upcoming season. The Char Dham Yatra 2014 is going to pour upon blessings of thousand lost lives.
“This post is written by Swairik Das who is a passionate traveller and an adventurer. In this article he shared the temper and his view on the tragedy occurred in Uttarakhand few months back. He is also focused on motivating worldwide tourist to come out of their horrific memories and walk hand in hand to contribute bit by bit for the needy.”