Stranded pilgrims in Uttarakhand who were rescued, were accorded a grand welcome on their arrival at the Nellore railway station here on the Puri-Tirupati express train on Sunday.

General public and a good number of relatives arrived at the railway station and waited anxiously to receive their near and dear ones. As soon as the train screeched to a halt, people thronged the doors and windows of coaches and exchanged greetings with the pilgrims.

Some pilgrims broke into tears on seeing their family members and said that at one time, they had lost all hope of returning home. They recalled the horrible conditions they had faced due to the ravaging floods and heavy rains that damaged roads completely in Uttarkashi.

‘It was like rebirth’

“It was like rebirth for all of us. We did not know what was happening. All hope was lost initially but after days of suffering, we finally returned safely,” said Balu Subba Rao, a retired principal, who hails from Buchireddypalem village near Nellore.

A number of political leaders and activists also arrived at the railway station to greet the pilgrims. BJP district president P. Surender Reddy and other leaders were present.

On behalf of the district administration, District Revenue Officer B. Rami Reddy arrived with a host of officials and welcomed the pilgrims. Some relatives brought sweets to distribute among the pilgrims on the happy occasion.

Speaking to reporters, pilgrim Ananda Rao said that he had almost lost hope. It was clear that there was no danger to them initially but the next three days they spent in gloom and pain with no clarity regarding their journey, he added.

Another pilgrim, Subbaratnamma, said that she was gripped with fear throughout the last phase of the journey and with the help of officials there, they could finally reach New Delhi and Nellore.