Cloudbursts and Flashfloods in Himachal Pradesh: Himachal Floods, River Beas Overflows- Simpy Sharma Observes from Ground Zero

Humans’ Encounter with Nature’s Fury

Surrounded by nature’s magnificence, owing to our lack of understanding, we humans often forget the lessons imprinted in the depths of time and dismiss the tragedies that have befallen us, born from our own recklessness and irresponsibility. A harrowing chapter of the catastrophe of 2013 serves as a reminder of the devastation, colossal grief, and immeasurable pain that unleashed the wrath of Mother Nature when we took her for granted. A sanctuary of solace and tranquillity, the majestic Kedarnath, a sacred temple of divine devotion, has always welcomed pilgrims with open arms. Standing as a beacon of hope amidst Kaliyuga, the temple has always resonated with the divine presence of God. Millions of souls have found peace and calmness through this one temple of Lord Shiva.

Kedarnath's Heart wrenching Disaster

Yet, the tranquillity was once shattered by the forces of nature when the river Mandakini unleashed its wrath upon humans. On the fateful night, the dark clouds shed heavy tears of God as continuous rains fell on June 16, 2013, resulting in the serene Mandakini River being transformed into a raging destroyer ready to engulf the valley in seconds. All swept away with no trace in its wake. Thousands died; many lost their loved ones; others lost hopes to start afresh; and all were baffled and perplexed upon seeing the fury of their mother. They even summoned their lord to save them from the chaos, but Lord Shiva remained silent, as though struck by Mandakini's wrath. The aftermath of the calamity reminded us of our merciless exploitation of her for our selfish gains. We realised and understood the consequences of our own actions when we disrupted the fragile balance of nature with humans. The echoes of the night are forever combined with Kedar Nath until the end of time. We learned our lessons, determined not to repeat the deadlier actions in the future, not only here but at many other adobes of divinity all over India. We embraced the responsibility that was incumbent upon us to safeguard the planet to avoid any future tragedies or disturbing the balance of nature, as none of us is ready to face the wrath of nature the way it fell on humanity that night.

A Harrowing Echo of Kedarnath's Tragedy

They say that history repeats itself. The cycle of time keeps turning unless we embrace new actions to transform our future. Similar patterns and narratives are monotonous to the extent that we often want to break the shackles of repetition and write new narratives and explore new realms. Certainly, history repeats itself unless we gather all the courage to break the chains that bind us, learn from our past mistakes, and pave the way for a harmonious and peaceful future by watering the seeds of transformation buried deep inside the tragedies we once stumbled upon.

Despite learning the hard way in the oceans of wisdom, human species struggle to break the rigid chains of the old pattern with recurring threads of mistakes and repeated actions, getting familiar results.

Beas’s Destructive Dance

On July 9 , 2023, something similar was witnessed in the tragedy of Kedarnath, but this time it was not Mandakini but the mighty Beas who swallowed everything in her wake. Mandi is a picturesque town located in the foothills of the majestic Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh. A divine mixture of rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty makes this place a desired hill station for people around the corners of India. Also known as Choti Kashi, this place is blessed with the pristine Beas River flowing through its heart, offering an enchanting atmosphere and making it a magical realm. Since ages, this pristine river has blessed the people of this place in numerous ways. This river has captivated millions through her melodic flow and mesmerising dance. This river originates from the Pristine Beas Kund, located near Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh. Carving its way down the mountains, it passes through Manali, Kullu, and Mandi. Its flowing water has served as a blessing not only for humans but for other beings as well. Especially in monsoon season, this river undergoes significant changes and experiences various phenomena. Due to the heavy rainfall in the monsoon seasons, a substantial increase in the water levels can be seen every year in Beas. But on July 9th, 2023, it was different. The once tranquil river awakened from its peaceful slumber and transformed into a mighty force of nature. Due to the continuous rainfall that started a day prior, she transformed into an untamed spirit of the mountains, and with immense pressure and water flow, she destroyed everything that came her way. She had unstoppable momentum that day, which was feared by every living being who witnessed her. Huge rocks and debris surrendered themselves to the river’s vigorous flow and were consumed by it. The river has now taken on a brown hue. In her turbulent ballet, the river started her cleansing ritual. It embraced the mess created by humans, forgetting the difference between the unimportant and the things that needed to be saved. On every turn, she uprooted fragments of humans’ lives. She carved new paths and carried debris and boulders, reminding everyone of her terrifying capabilities and leaving behind destruction. The floodwaters overwhelmed the town by breaching the river banks. Buildings distorted, bridges collapsed, and everywhere unimaginable loss prevailed as if she were determined to clear everything that came her way.

When Beas Failed to Extinguish the Ancient Temple

In 2013, we saw how Kedarnath temple remained resilient amidst the chaos and stood as a ray of optimism amidst the storm for the people, who witnessed their lives shattering in front of their eyes that night. Lord Shiva’s sacred adobe, an architectural marvel of ancient India, the Kedarnath temple, simply refused to summon against the odds.

The time yet again witnessed a decade-previous event that happened in Kedarnath. The turbulent waters of the mighty Beas River were determined to test the boundaries of the ancient Panchvaktra temple in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. For years, the river has embraced the temple with her dancing currents during the monsoon season. The year 2023 had something different to showcase. The temple completely clubbed in water stood tall as an indomitable spirit, a silent resilient, reminding us all of the mighty Kedarnath. The river water that engulfed the temple reached its peak and continued to challenge the divine forces that reside within for more than 48 hours. The temple stood tall and seemed to whisper the profound truth of divinity.

Unworldly Guardians or Proficient Artistry?

Many opine that this event is a reflection of Divine Grace, as they treat it as a reminder of the presence of Lord Shiva within the walls of the temple, who protected the temple against overwhelming odds. People from all walks of society Believed in the presence of some celestial force that not only protected Panchvaktra but Kedarnath Temple too in the devastating flash flood of 2013. Those who witnessed the deadly dance of the river Beas believed in Lord Shiva, who denied completely moving an inch during the flash flood; hence, they comprehended it as a pillar of strength for humanity to prevail.

Few others were baffled by the wisdom of ancient architects, who, in the past, might have anticipated the river’s whimsical nature. Almost all the ancient temples in India, including the ones we are considering here, were typically constructed with the help of skilled craftsmanship and ultimate devotion towards the religious entity. The techniques used to construct these temples could have been different depending on the geographical and climatic characteristics of the place, but surely one thing remains common in all these temples: sacred structures built on robust foundations. The walls, pillars, and beams could have been intricately carved to provide balance to the whole structure. Furthermore, the ancient skilled builders must have taken into account geometry and the spiritual concept when carefully planning and creating complex monuments. The construction techniques that were used in ancient India have evolved over time across the country under direct influence from various dynasties, empires, and rulers.

In modern times, the process of construction has evolved immensely due to the evolution of technology, as these days the builders are using comprehensive hydraulic studies to safeguard the structure from various challenges posed by flash floods. The engineers are making the structure natural disaster-resistant to withstand immense pressure from water after understanding and analysing various data, including water flow, hydraulic patterns, topography, and their impact on the structure. Furthermore, the engineers are using the material to construct monuments that are water-resistant and durable. With the introduction of a proper drainage system and the installation of gutters and pipes to quickly divert flood water elsewhere, the engineers are becoming extra cautious and taking every possible detail into consideration to safeguard these temples and the bridges that are very important in the hilly terrain.

The Ancient Architecture defied floods, whereas Modernity Sank.

Ironically, despite the destruction caused by various floods in the history of times, these ancient structures are still standing tall as a testament to the craftsmanship of the bygone era with weathered walls and worn-out colours, whereas the fragile modern bridges and structures, built by the modern civil engineers after having considered all the possible calculations, sank and got lost in history. The irony doesn’t totally lie in the physical difference between the ancient marvels and the modern structures, but also in the deeper connection that humanity has with them. When we look at the decay of modern structures, we are often reminded of the transitive nature of today’s times, whereas when we contemplate the stability of ancient structures, we realise the deep-rooted values and principles that have guided our ancestors and are still guiding us.


In the end, I would like to rest my case by concluding that the confluence of religion and the ancient skills of building these temples in particular have saved them from the wrath of nature and maintained their timeless beauty. Moreover, humanity must prioritise Mother Nature above all, as we are not ready to face a fury. We must try to have a harmonious coexistence with nature and other beings with whom we share this planet to ensure the survival of humanity for generations to come. If we continue to dismiss the warnings given by nature from time to time, we must get ready to face the consequences of our own actions.

By Simpy Sharma