"For a while I had lost hopes of getting back to Mumbai," said Mohan Palankar, one of the tourists who were stranded in Srinagar due to heavy snowfall.
Palankar (45), a resident of Thane was on an off-season winter pilgrimage to Vaishnodevi along with his family and office friends.
"I heaved a sigh of relief when I stepped in Mumbai," said the MTNL employee who reached Mumbai on early Monday morning. "My daughter was in Mumbai since she is appearing for the class 12 exams. I couldn't stop thinking about her," added Palankar who was accompanied by his wife Pushpa (40), son Shreyas (6) and five other relatives who had come down from Goa and Karnataka.
The group of tourists had started from Mumbai on November 22 and reached Vaishnodevi on November 27. After visiting the shrine they toured several places in the region before getting caught in the snowstorm in Kozi –Konda village.
"We couldn't even move out of the Moonlight Hotel where we were staying since we were told that it was a terrorists' area. People who did not have cell phones couldn't even go out to make STD calls to their relatives," said Pushpa adding that we all helped each other very much since it was a traumatic phase.
"After the snow cleared we came to Srinagar by bus and on Saturday by contacting a few local politicians in Thane, special flight arrangements were made for all the stranded tourists by which we reached Delhi and then boarded a train for Mumbai," said Pushpa, a housewife.
"I wonder what we had done if they hadn't helped us. We were exhausted of all the money we had. There was hardly any money left with any of the group members," she said further thanking Jitendra Aawad, MLA from Thane for the relief.
Recollecting the helpless days they spent in Kozi- Konda, Pushpa added: "Over a period of time we couldn't just bear the cold. One of our group members fell terribly ill due to low blood pressure that made the matter even worse since there was no medication available. Fortunately nothing went wrong drastically and all of us returned safely."
According to Krishna Seth (55), one of the Palankar's relatives who had come from Karnataka, "All the women in the group had completely panicked. We were over 40 people staying in one room since it was a small hotel. But I was sure we will reach safely since we has visited the holy shrine of Vaishnodevi."