Part 3: AMARNATH Yatra starts: Ambala to Udhampur:
In Last two posts we have covered general instructions and important information for Amarnath Yatra. Now we will proceed to Amarnath Yatra 2010 in which we used both tracks; Pahalgam for ascend and Baltal for descend. Planning of the Yatra 2010 was started 3-4 months before the commencement of Yatra and 7 persons for the Yatra were already finalized.
The Amarnath Yatra was starting on 30th June 2010.We had decided to leave on first week of July and was waiting for opening of online registrations which was due on 5th June. I was preparing but was not sure whether I will be able to go or not because my mother was ill for some period.
Recently she was diagnosed with stones in GB. She was already suffering from heart, asthma and BP. She felt severe pain many times due to stones and her condition was deteriorating day by day. She had blockage in heart veins and due to heart problem she could not be operated upon for stones.
Doctors had advised her for bye pass surgery first but due to unknown reasons/fear she was not getting ready for operation. Anyhow I along with my brothers convinced her and took appointment with one Cardiologist at Fortis Hospital at Mohali and fixed the date of 12th May 2010 for surgery.
She looked normal when she was not in pain .On 9th May when I returned from office, she was sitting on chair, normal and talking with some relative who had come to inquire her health. She took very little in dinner and went for sleep. Since the last few days, my mother was sleeping with us on my repeated request as I did not want to take any risk by leaving her alone at nights. That night she slept very little and keeps asking me for the whole night what the time was. At 4:30 AM (10th May), she told me that she is going for a bath. I asked my wife to accompany her. My mother took help but only to go till bathroom. After bath, she asked for a cup of tea and starts praying to God. My wife prepared tea but before she brought the tea, my mother got slept while praying. She woke up after half an hour and asked where the tea was? I replied “Mamma, you got slept, Just wait, fresh tea is coming” but again she got slept. I realized something fishy and telephoned my elder brothers to come quickly so that we can take her to hospital. Soon, my brothers and Bhabhi arrived and tried to wake up her and found that she was unconscious. We quickly took her to hospital.
The doctor attended her; my mother opened her eyes, looked at us for a while and took her last breaths. The doctor declared her dead. That was/is the saddest day of my life. One of my friends whispered in my ears that today is mother’s day. Till that day, I never know which day is celebrated as mother’s day.
Though we Indians do not need only one day to love, respect or care our mother, but still, after that I never forget the mother’s day. Being the youngest in the family, I was very close to my mother and as she was living with me her sudden departure was a very setback for me and my family.
After my mother’s death, I was very disturbed and for me, the Amarnath Yatra of that year was over.I conveyed the decision to my friends and they refused to go without me, so the tour was over.After completing all last rituals of my mother, I joined the office after 15 days. One month passed and as the time is a great healer; things started changing normal to me.
One day I thought that I have stopped nothing after my mother’s death. I am doing the things as usual; eating, drinking, office working, playing with kids, meeting with friends’ etc. Then, why I have dropped the idea of Amarnath Yatra.I decided to go for Yatra and discussed it with my friends; they were surprised and happily agreed. I booked one Tavera for 7 people and fixed the date of 11th July for Yatra.
But misfortune never comes alone.
Five days left to Yatra:
At evening of 5th July 2010, it started raining .It kept on raining for the whole night. Next morning when I was ready to go to office and waiting for rain to stop or slow down, heavy downpour started. I saw the water level increasing in front of my home. Then I got a call from one friend and he told me that due to breach in Tangri River, heavy flood has come in Ambala and at some places water level has increased up to 4-5 feet.
I saw water entering in my home with speed. I quickly tried to save some electronics/electrical appliances first. It was a first experience for me to handle the flood water. I was helpless and soon I surrendered. Soon my home was filled with flood water.
No one would have dreamt of such a flood in Northern Haryana, especially in the – Ambala.
All our woolens and winter cloths kept in bed boxes were submerged in flood water. Many house hold items, shoes etc were floating on the flood water all over the house. We were sitting on the stairs and looking on that all.
Water level starts decreasing around 4PM but at very slow speed. My wife prepared dinner while standing in flood water and we took hostage in Mumty room (room constructed at terrace to cover the stairs) for the whole night.
Next morning when we wake up, flood water was already drained out but it had left its impact all over the house. It took us two complete days to clean the whole house and wash all the clothes. Each and everything was checked. Many items and cloths got damaged and were thrown. I suffered not only in monetary value and also in terms of peace of mind. A fear of future floods sat in our minds. Due to continuous hard work of three days I fell ill.
This was the story of not only me but thousands of families residing in twin city of Ambala and surrounding area which were affected with this flood. Cities of Ambala Cantt and Ambala City are surrounded by two rivers.
On west side, there is Ghaghar River and east side, there is Tangri River. In between these two, cities of Ambala Cantt and Ambala City exists. Both these rivers are seasonal and are in water only in rainy season. Sources of both of these are in Himachal and many times even when there are no rains in Ambala; these are flooded due to heavy rains in Himachal. In 2010, there were breach in both rivers and causes massive flood in twin cities.
Two days left to Yatra
Out of seven people; who were supposed to go on Yatra, I was the lone sufferer with this flood. For one friend, Swarn, flood was a regular/annual affair so they have already kept their belonging accordingly, so no loss. Three other friends were living on first floor, hence not affected and rests two were living in the area which was not affected from flood.
My wife was very much disturbed with this episode, she request me to drop the idea of Yatra this year as she fear that it could happen again and what will she do in my absence if it repeats.
I was more disturbed with the conditions. Should I go? Or drop? I was in a fix. I finally make my mind to go and persuaded my wife and finally she agreed. Thank God and thanks to her.
We decided to meet at 6 AM on 11th July 2010 at a particular point near Bus stand and asked the taxi to reach there. We all except Swarn reached there in time. He reached half an hour late that too after 15-20 calls.
Let me introduce my co-passengers.
SWARN and Sushil Malhotra are my friends.
Naresh Saroha and Sanjeev Sharma are my office colleagues and friends too.
Shekhar Rajenderan belongs to Kerala and that time he was working in our office as support engineer from vendor side.
Sonu: Brother-in-law of Naresh Saroha.
We left Ambala at around 7 o’clock. Traffic was low at that time and by 9 o’clock we had crossed Ludhiana. Our first break was at Jalandhar. Sushil’s mama ji has a famous shop of Chole Bhature at Jalandhar. We stopped there and enjoyed Chole Bhature and Rice Chane and then a round of cup of tea. After a break of one good hour we again proceed to onwards journey.
For today, our destination was Udhampur. We were sharing jokes with each other and time passed quickly. Around 2:30 PM we crossed the Ravi River and just after crossing the river we were stopped by JK police party. They called the driver and checked all vehicle documents and enter the number of passengers in one register.
Some voluntaries of one NGO were also sitting there and asked us to not used Polythene in J&K. They took away Plastic bags from us and gave us Jute bags. They also advised us to turn left from there to reach the Dhar-Udhampur road.
We asked the driver to turn left and take the slip road. Soon we reached at a point where this slip road merged into Dhar-Udhampur road. We saw a very big lake and a dam on left side of the road. We, all, were unknown to this place so we asked the driver to stop the vehicle at one tea shop. While taking tea we asked the tea vendor about that place. He told us that that was Ranjit Sagar Dam built on the Ravi River and the lake was Ranjit Sagar Lake.It means we have entered again in Punjab and now will re-enter in J&K.
“The Ranjit Sagar Dam, also known as the Thein Dam, is part of a hydroelectric project constructed by the Government of Punjab on the Ravi River in the state of Punjab. The project is situated near Pathankot city in Pathankot District of the state of Punjab. The project is the largest hydroelectric dam in the state of Punjab.
The township where the site is located is called Shah pur Kandi Township.”
After staying there for some time and clicking some pictures we moved to our destination. After half an hour a police man standing at one Police post waived hand and asked us to stop. We asked the driver to carry on but the driver stopped the vehicle. The police man told us that we were not supposed to use this road. He asked us to go back and use the main road.
On hearing this, we started arguing with him. He went and wakes up his boss. He started saying the same thing but we refused to follow them. They were only two and we were eight, so we pressurized them and finally they gave in and allowed us to go. But this exercise wasted half an hour.
We took one more tea break and finally reached Udhampur at 6:45 PM. We went and took rest at Hanuman Temple where arrangements are made for stay and food for Amarnath Pilgrims during Amarnath Yatra and that finishes our first day of the Yatra.
In next part we will proceed to Pahalgam. Till then Jai Bhole ki..