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2013 again! Flood alert in Uttarakhand, rescue and evacuation of pilgrims begin

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uttarakhand_flood2-621x414Lucknow/Dehradun: The Uttarakhand government on Friday began rescue and evacuation measures for the stranded pilgrims hit by inclement weather during the annual Char Dham Yatra, officials said.

The state has received heavy rainfall in the last 24-hours since Thursday morning, and the meteorological department has indicated no sign of respite from the heavy monsoon showers.

While five Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers have been pressed into service to help and evacuate stranded pilgrims on various routes of the pilgrimage, many army personnel have also been sent to repair bridges that have been swept away, or damaged in the downpour.

Rescue operations by the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) also began at Govindghat, Ghangharia, Guptkashi and many other places in Chamoli district, district officials told a media outlet.

The Laxman Ganga bridge in Chamoli, has suffered extensive damage and efforts are on to repair it.7995808283_74674b65d4_z

The Alaknanda river, which caused maximum damage in the flash floods of 2013, is once again in spate.

Hundred metres long stretch of Badrinath highway has been washed away in Lambagad, and thousands of pilgrims, tourists and locals are stranded on the route.

Furthermore, 1,500 people were halted in Badrinath alone, whereas, over 800 pilgrims are caught in inclement weather en route to Hemkund Saheb.

The motor bridge at Soneprayag has also been washed away in the torrential downpour and Gangotri highway has also been closed, informed the officials.

The officials also said that Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Harish Rawat was personally monitoring the situation, and added that the first priority of the state government was to ensure the pilgrims’ safety. (IANS)

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Monsoon Road Trips from Mumbai

The hills are alive this monsoon. The best way to feel the cool winds and witness the mountain storms is to do it on one’s own terms – behind the wheel

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Here are some top recommendations for your next best road trip in this season of Monsoon. Pixabay

The floods in Mumbai have been in the news lately, an annual chaos that seems to have become part and parcel of life in the country’s financial capital. However, the monsoons are not a season to dread and just outside the city, as the curious traveller ventures higher into the Western Ghats, there are some picture-perfect destinations for the season. Here are some top recommendations.

Lonavala
Lonavala would be on top of the monsoon destination list for most Mumbaikars. Wrapped in fog, this historic region gains a completely new avatar in the rains as the forested mountain slopes regenerate and the waterfalls come to life. One of these is Kune Falls, which roars amidst a pristine verdant scenery.

The Lohagad Fort has always been one of the most captivating sites on this route and the monsoon mist gives it an allure straight of a medieval-theme video game or movie. A trek to Liones Point is recommended – the season would require special precautions like monsoon-ready footwear and waterproof clothing. While in Lonavala town, a visit to the lake is not a bad idea.

Khandala
Just next to Lonavala, one can reach the quaint hill town of Khandala, perched at close to 2000 feet above sea level. The mild monsoon temperatures and dramatic scenery make this place an ideal weekend getaway from the bustling metro, not to mention the splendorous drive on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Some of the popular viewpoints here are the Tiger’s Leap and the Amrutanjan Point. Other attractions here include the Buddhist cave temples at Karla and the calm and placid Bhushi Lake.

khandala
The mild monsoon temperatures and dramatic scenery make Khandala an ideal weekend getaway from the bustling metro.

Mahabaleshwar
A jewel tucked in the lap of the mighty Sahyadari Mountains; Mahabaleshwar offers visitors a curious mix of colonial heritage and striking Indian history. Built by Shivaji, Pratapgad Fort has an enigmatic presence in the landscape here, a site of many important events.

Those looking to enjoy some of the high elevations will love a trek to the summit of Wilson Point, famous for its panoramic views of the valley below. The Needle Hole Point is another famous place to catch a glimpse of the scenic landscapes. Venna Lake is another centrepiece attraction at Mahabaleshwar while the hilltop Krishnabai Temple is famous for its architecture and Krishna statue.

More and more travellers are choosing a car rental over public transport. Rates are increasingly affordable and self drive gives total control over the pace of the journey. One can make impromptu stops and detours and there is complete privacy.

Finding a car rental in Mumbai is as simple as a few taps on an app. With platforms like Zoomcar, registered users can book a vehicle in a matter of minutes. One can choose from a wide range of cars – maybe a hatchback or sedan for the family getaway – or maybe a large SUV for the boisterous group road trip. 24/7 on-road support is one of the assurances that self drive rentals offer.

The hills are alive this monsoon. The best way to feel the cool winds and witness the mountain storms is to do it on one’s own terms – behind the wheel.