They were, however, said to be safe and taking shelter at the Chinna Jeeyar ashram en route to Badrinath. The news of the stranded pilgrims caused a lot of anxiety among their relatives as the memories of the major devastation in the hill shrine are still afresh in the minds of the people.
At least 28 pilgrims returning from the Char Dham Yatra, including a dozen women and an eight-year-old boy from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, were stranded near Badrinath due to inclement weather.
The pilgrims were, however, said to be safe and were taking shelter in the China Jeeyar ashram near Joshimath on the way to Badrinath, according to officials who said the number of stranded pilgrims could be more, but the administration was waiting for reports to come in. The pilgrims were caught unawares as heavy rain lashed the area inundating the hilly terrain. The copious rains resulted in landslips and flash floods forcing pilgrims to look out for a safe shelter.
The news of the stranded pilgrims caused a lot of anxiety among their relatives as the memories of the major devastation in the hill shrine are still afresh in the minds of the people. In all, 10 pilgrims from Hyderabad, four from Mahbubnagar, three from Visakhapatnam and 11 from Krishna district were presently stationed at the ashram, said Special Commissioner, Disaster Management, K. Hymavathi. “Blankets and food are being provided to the pilgrims. The only worrisome aspect is bad weather conditions as temperature dipped significantly, making it difficult to airlift the stranded people,” she said.
Pilgrims said that they took shelter in the ashram after the road between Badrinath and Joshimath was cut off due to landslips. “The ashram staff is taking care of us, but we are worried about cold as temperature dipped to sub-zero levels,” said a pilgrim S. Haribabu from Kukatpally Housing Board Colony.
“We can see some portion of the road covered with debris. It’s a dangerous situation here,” he said. AP In-charge Disaster Management Commissioner J.C. Sharma spoke to senior officials in Uttarakhand and inquired about the condition of the AP pilgrims. Local officials told Mr. Sharma that they were providing necessary assistance to devotees.
Meanwhile, AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu directed AP Bhavan Resident Commissioner Satish Chandra and AP Government’s Special Representative in Delhi Kambhampati Rammohan Rao to rush to the spot and personally supervise the relief and rescue operations. Officials in Hyderabad said it would take at least four days to bring back the stranded pilgrims as the approach to the ashram has to be restored for the officials to reach the spot.