New Delhi: Seventy-three-year-old Balaji was visiting the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu when the ground beneath started shaking violently and he fell down.
"I initially thought some bombs had exploded, but realised soon after that it was an earthquake," Balaji said on arriving in Delhi.
Among the 783 Indians brought back to India from quake-hit Nepal on Sunday, Balaji is relieved to be back home but cannot erase the images he saw following the 7.9 temblor hit the country on Saturday.
"I managed to find a safe place to sit down. The ground kept swaying for almost a minute and when it quietened down, I went outside and saw that the roads had cracked and several buildings had collapsed.
"There was chaos and panic outside... people were buried under the rubble. It was terrible," recounted Balaji to IANS at the Karnataka Bhavan in New Delhi, where he and many others were temporarily staying before moving on to their respective states.
Balaji, a retired government servant works with a private company in Bangalore.
There was no traffic on the road and no drinking water available in the aftermath of the devastating quake. The electricity had gone off. Balaji and his wife decided to sit on the road away from buildings.
"The aftershocks kept recurring and we were so scared each time," said Balaji, who had gone on a tour of Nepal and north India along with his wife.
They remained sitting the whole day without water or food till around 8 pm when a local government bus took them to Kathmandu airport, where they were given tea and biscuits. They arrived in India early on Sunday morning.
The experience of BS Siddalingappa, 64, was similar. He was part of a team of 43 tourists who were visiting Nepal.
Siddalingappa, who owns a farmhouse back home, said all the members of his group were safe. They had arrived in Nepal on April 23 after visiting Varanasi.
"I was visiting a Buddhist temple in Kathmandu when the quake struck. I saw motorcycles and cars overturning and buildings crashing down onto vehicles," Siddalingappa told IANS.
He clung onto a telephone pillar to stay upright as the ground swayed dangerously.
The tremors kept recurring, terrifying everybody, he said. There was no electricity or water and the roads had developed huge cracks. The hotel in which Siddalingappa was staying was badly damaged in the quake. He managed to retrieve a part of his luggage from the rubble.
A bus came and ferried the group in batches to the airport where they had tea and biscuits, the first food after several hours of waiting out in the open.
The roads were largely empty with only emergency vehicles and the police ambulances plying.
Asha Malik, 46, a housewife, was visiting Nepal with a cousin sister. She was at a curio shop in Kathmandu making purchases when she felt the ground shaking and saw the shopkeeper fleeing.
"I did not realize that it was a quake till the buildings around me started shaking. We went to an open field and stayed there. All around us we saw buildings shaking with a roaring sound coming from the ground. We were terrified," Malik told IANS.
They felt the tremors repeatedly. "Each time a tremor hit, we would get terrified," she said.
They reached the airport at 8 p.m. and were flown to Delhi in the morning.
"We feel immensely relieved after coming back to India," said Malik.