Kedarnath Jajee, a businessman from the city, along with seven relatives, had gone to Badrinath to perform a religious ceremony for his mother, Lakshmikanthamma, who died last August.
The five days the group spent in Badrinath were the longest of their lives as they had little hope of safely returning home. Mr. Jajee said that on June 11, the group left for Delhi from where they planned to go to Badrinah via Dehradun and Rishikesh. On June 14 they left for Badrinath via Joshimath, where large-scale landslips were reported. They arrived in Badrinath on June 15.
“This was the beginning of our ordeal. It started raining around noon on June 15… poured without any respite for 60 hours. Fortunately, we were staying in a guesthouse.”
But it was freezing as the temperature had dipped to around 0 to 4 degrees Celsius. There was no electricity to heat the rooms and getting drinking water was a huge problem, he said.
“More than 10,000 pilgrims were stranded in Badrinath when the downpour started on June 15. It was a terrible situation for the pilgrims without adequate food or water. By June 20, the price of a 1-litre bottle of water, which was being sold for Rs. 20, had shot up to Rs. 200.” Hotels and eateries too increased their prices.
“Our ordeal finally ended on June 20 when the rescue team airlifted us from Badrinath to Joshimath. But it did not end there. We travelled in a vehicle from Joshimath to Rudraprayag. A distance of 240 km on a narrow road, passing through dangerous ghat sections and roads blocked owing to landslips. That is an experience I will never forget.”
Mr. Jajee said that there were still many pilgrims, particularly aged people, stranded in Badrinath. Shortage of food and medicines were the main issue. Many pilgrims had kept Haridwar as the base and visited Badrinath, Kedarnath and other pilgrimage centres for a day or two. Such people had brought along very few belongings.