Sunday, October 24, 2010

When it rains in Uttrakhand

In India there are essentially three seasons -- the hot, the wet and the cool. In September I was again in India, partly still during the Monsoon. There were major floods in Uttrakhand. It was amazing to see how people got on with the amount of water.

Many tourists wrapped themselves up in cheap single-use raincoats in bright colors. They were available for 10 Rupees only. The footbridges (actually also used by cyclists, motorbikers and monkeys :-)) were full of such crowds.

raincoats

Cyclists and even motorbikers protected themselves from the rain by carrying umbrellas. I was impressed with their ability of driving with one hand, particularly when the road conditions got bad and potholes etc. could not be seen anymore because the water level on the streets was too high.

cyclist with umbrella

The rain continued, but we had already planned to travel from Rishikesh to Mussoorie. Even though we went in a car, I was sometimes worried that we would make it through rapid streams flowing over some low bridges or through flooded underpasses -- something that I would personally only risk with a four-wheel drive, but in India even overloaded motorbikes did. Well, we had to get through the water because there was simply no other option. Unfortunately, after a few such adventures, the horn didn't work anymore. If you know how important blowing the horn in India is, than this is a rather frightening experience (earlier I wrote more about general traffic in India if you're interested to know more). Moreover, there was constantly water condensing on the windshields which drastically decreased the visibility...

flooded roads

Along the way we also saw trucks sunk in the rivers, fallen trees blocking the streets, and more and more streets that turned into rivers creating a lot of (at that time invisible) potholes.

Well, we made it to Mussoorie alright. And since this was a hill station, we were not worried about the rain so much. However, due to flooding and landslides the phone lines were blocked for quite a while, and for a few days also the highway and railway connection to Delhi was closed...

monkeys hiding from the rain

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