Monday, July 22, 2013

Kedarnath – Uttarakhand Tragedy – One Month On...

A month gone, the tragedy of Uttrakhand is still fresh in the memory. The disaster was so great, it makes one wonder as to how and why this happen at all.

Reasons may be many, but, who will take the responsibility for the events that caused the devastation.

The whole thing brings to mind a simple but grave thought – why was Nature so furious? Was mankind responsible for Nature’s fury?

The more we will destroy nature and the natural habitat, the more disaster we will face, can well be read from this happening.

Kedarnath, the holy shrine, which most of the Hindus will like to visit once in lifetime. At the same time, to go to this holy place is not so easy. A thought of this takes me back to that day when I was lucky to visit and get the Darshan of Baba Kedarnath.

After travelling all the distance from Delhi, before proceeding for Kedarnath, it was a night halt at Gaurikund. This is that place that has also been washed away in this landslide and flood that came down all the way from the land of Kedarnath.

I still remember how we had to climb up many many steps to reach out our halting place, the GMVN guest house. From the window we could see below boys and men playing the board game of Carrom, betting and win for some and loss for some others.

The next morning started early. After a short walk of about a kilometre we reached the spot where horses and dolis are available to move uphill. One can move uphill on foot as well, but the terrain is difficult. Soon we were on horsebacks and moved on. Actually here one can get the sight and smell of the beauty of nature. As we moved on we saw the sunrise and how the first Sun’s rays kissed the snowclad mountain tops to give them the golden colour.

Picturesque indeed and natural touch of gold on the hills was a sight to see and remember. The sight reminded me of Satyajit Ray’s Bengali film ‘Sonar Kella’, though the situation in the film was in the deserts of Rajasthan, but the thought was moreover the same.

Kedarnath is 14 Kilometres from Gaurikund. After travelling halfway, we stopped at Rambara for food. Hot parathas and sabzi and hot tea was a treat.

After half an hour’s halt we moved on. Before noon we reached Kedarnath dham. We put up at the GMVN guest house cottage in Kedarnath as we had decided to halt overnight. The cold was biting, but, after freshening up we went for the Lords Darshan. After lunch it was sightseeing. Nature’s beauty can be found in bounty there. Looking at the snow clad mountains was something that the eyes saw and will be remembered for life. We had been advised to ask for oxygen cylinder if anyone felt breathless at night. Two layers of warm clothes and two quilts and blankets still could not keep away the biting cold.

The sadhus are many in number at Kedarnath. They keep themselves warm by smearing their body with ash. Their living makes one the biting cold they keep warm with the cover of ash?

The special individual puja was performed by the Head pandit of the temple, in the early morning hours made us happy as we got a close view and the blessings of Baba Bhole Nath.

The next morning, after breakfast, we were on horseback to get back to Gaurikund.

Kedarnath is a place of pilgrimage for the Hindus. They go there with so much Bhakti and Shraddha in their heart and mind. But this destruction and wreckage has cost so many lives. The rivers had shown their ugly face and washed away so many lives and destroyed huge number of homes.

Like humans, nature too likes to exist within the framework of its own rules and regulations. Nature also does not like interference. So why play with another kingdom – Nature’s Kingdom -- when we don’t like others to come in our way.

A lesson if not learnt will make us pay the price.

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