A jet boat from Sir Edmund Hillary's India - New Zealand expedition on the Ganges that hit a sandbar in the middle of the mighty river, photograph by Prem Vaidya

A jet boat from Sir Edmund Hillary's India - New Zealand expedition on the Ganges that hit a sandbar in the middle of the mighty river, Photo by Prem Vaidya

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Hitting a Sand bar in mid-river, and a minor surgery!

By 8.30 am, we had packed our things and were again on the move upstream. After about an hour's safe journey towards Buxar, all of a sudden, we in the` advance boats realised that the Ganga was missing. Air India and Kiwi then turned back in search of Ganga. Visibility was poor. After cruising for some distance we found that Ganga was grounded in the middle of the river. It was an unbelievable sight. We halted at a safe distance and got out of the boat and started walking towards Ganga. We were informed that Ganga was cruising at a speed of 55 kms per hour and then with a sudden jolt got stuck in a sand bar. Harish, sitting in the front?for the first time without a life-jacket?banged his face against the dashboard. "There was complete blackout before me for a few seconds," he said later. Mingma sitting at the back, was thrown in front, hitting the occupants there. Blood started coming from his mouth.
BG’s legs were pressed under heavy luggage. When Max saw Mingma's mouth full of blood, he turned back to his boat to pick up his First Aid box. He found a deep wound inside Mingma’s front lower lip. After an injection, he started stitching the wound. Mingma was sitting inside the grounded boat. Max was standing in the river. Mike Dillon and I started filming an open-air Operation Theatre in action, right in the middle of the Ganga! The river was very shallow here, full of sand bars with just a layer of muddy water running over. BG stood there quietly with injured legs. At a distance, on the right bank of the river, a crowd of villagers was watching, probably wondering who were these Yogis walking in the middle of the river on water! After the operation was over, Ed's Nepali hymn helped everyone in pushing the boat with full force with 'defenders' below. We were all successful in bringing Ganga into the deep waters of the river and again moved upstream. For three days Mingma was on liquid diet.

(From Prem Vaidya’s memoirs: Memorable Assignments on Moving Images, published by National Film Archive of India, NFAI, 2009)

Photo Number 9032
Photo Title A jet boat from Sir Edmund Hillary's India - New Zealand expedition on the Ganges that hit a sandbar in the middle of the mighty river
Photographer Name Prem Vaidya