Presence of mind and courage saved the lives of many pilgrims, including 70 from the city, who were stranded in Batwari village when floods wrecked havoc in Uttarakhand.
Harish, Mohan and Pasha, employees of Venkateshwara Tours and Travels at Punjagutta, had taken 70 pilgrims from the city on the Char Dham yatra during the second week of June. But little did they know what was in store for them.
“We were returning from Gangotri to Uttarakashi. As we reached Batwari, it started pouring heavily, and roads had gone under water. Like many others, we too climbed a small hillock and took shelter,” recalled Harish. However, on reaching atop the hillock, they realised that six aged pilgrims from the group were missing. Asking Mohan to stay with the group, Harish and Pasha went in search of the pilgrims. “After some time, we located them with another group. We took them to our group and when rain stopped for a while, we found a shelter in a dharamshala abutting a river in the village,” said Pasha.
Locals were aware of the climate and instructed all pilgrims to be alert. As the water level rose in the river, they instructed the pilgrims to vacate the building and move to some other place. After some time, the building got washed away in the floods. Apart from the members of our group, there were 75 others in the building, he recalled. “It was very close, but luckily we were all safe,” said a relieved Pasha.
Harish, Mohan and Pasha of Venkateshwara Tours and Travels had taken 70 pilgrims from the city on the Char Dham yatra