There was no way left. How could there have been? There was no way ever! It's a valley after all. Whatever comes, she welcomes it with open arms. Be it blessings or floods.
Ice capped mountains all around. A sight of sheer beauty. Early in the morning, when the sun has not even risen and the moon is yet to fade, sounds of Har Har Mahadev fill the air. The sky would be clear now, and just then it would start to rain. The sun makes its way through thick clouds to shine over the highest peak. The early morning silver lined clouds and mountains are just not to be missed. And above all the ravines, where you would now see only stones, pebbles and debris accumulated, but four years back they must have only been the way for the floods and the avalanche that swamped the entire valley, a range of villages and many more faithful beings except the centre of faith.
It has been seven long years, but once you visit the Valley of Kedar, you will, even unwillingly, imagine what it must have been like then. Massive mountains surrounding Kedar, all sloped towards Kedar, making way for all the water to flow towards Kedar and what Kedar does, it embraces it all. Everything living, everything dead, just everything.
One of the survivors, now running a small Dhaba there (though it is the largest in the valley) , tells us, "The way to the temple was different then. People used to take half a round of the mountain to reach the entrance of the temple. It was early morning, we were all sleeping and suddenly it all happened." His eyes started to blink quickly, as if he was trying to avoid something. It was a dreadful thing to remember and to go back to. We stopped our enquiries. He just said, "We went to our terrace to save ourselves." As it was difficult enough for us to raise our queries to the locals, we could understand how hard it would have been for them to answer our questions.
As one goes into the temple premises, given the smallness of it, one can immediately think of what would have happened to the ones who were inside then. Giving way to the minutest imagination, one can see the temple full of water and devotees panicking to find a way out. As there are only two gates on the adjacent sides of the first section of the temple, the devotees in this section might have found some way. But the ones in the middle and the last section, which is the sanctum sanctorum, must have given up all on their faith.
On an average 5000 people visit the shrine per day during the Yatra period. After having trekked 17 KM on foot, and outdone rains, hails and the uneven way, one can only try their best to acclimatize to the lack of oxygen at 3,553 m. There is not enough strength left to fight a disaster as it had happened then.
Seven years down the line, what will please you is to see how things are back on track. Transport working, basic necessities provided, construction work in progress and over the top, faith served well. The number of pilgrims is ever increasing, and the government is trying its best to serve the tourists with the best of facilities.
The Valley of Kedar has become an epitome of true faith. Despite all the disruptions caused by the vagaries of nature, pilgrims made their way to pay reverence to their centre of faith. And now, it has come even closer to the spirit of compassion as every being who comes to worship, worships not only for their own self, but for all the departed souls who may still be wandering in the Valley in search of a closure.
- A story by Radhika Sharma, Editor, TSSO