Pradeep Pattanayak

Most of us have used Google Maps to find out the directions to our destinations. But it is the same Google Maps that allegedly misguided five friends and left them stranded for 11 hours in the deep forest of Saptasajya in Dhenkanal on Sunday night. 

What happened to them is something straight out of any Goosebumps-inducing rescue movie. 

Sunday being a holiday, five friends- Sujitya Sahu, Surya Prakash Mohnaty, Subhan Mohapatra, Himanshu Das and Arakshita Mohapatra, all students of a private ITI college in Cuttack-decided to go on a trip to Saptasajya shrine in Dhenkanal, unbeknownst to the nightmare awaiting them. 

They went to the spot on bikes. They reached at around 11 AM.  Parking their bikes at the foot of the hill, they climbed the stairs and had the darshan of Lord Ram in the temple atop the hill. Then they went to the Vishnu Baba’s mutt. While returning from there, they became disoriented.

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They found themselves in the middle of the jungle. In whichever direction they went, they only found jungle. By then, it was 2 PM. 

With no option left, they fell back on Google Maps. To their utter dismay, the route shown by Google Maps only led them deeper into the jungle. 
After moving for around 10 kilometers in the jungle without any food, they became tired. At around 5.30 PM, they reached a spot called Bhuashuni Khola. They took a rest for some time there. 

After trying for hours, one of them could contact a person and asked him the route to get out of the jungle. He asked them to walk towards the east. They tried to find out the direction using the compass on their mobile phones but failed. 

With no option left, they called up the police, requesting help.

Without losing any moment, the Dhenkanal police swung into action. With the help of the Forest department, two teams were formed and immediately a rescue operation was launched. 

While one team preceded from Majhi Sahi, the second team went up the hill from the Saptasajya temple side.  
Eventually, the teams with the help of local people traced out the students. Then, it was around 12 O’clock midnight. 

The operation took one and a half hours. 

“We went a few meters in the wrong direction. I told my friends that Google Maps was showing the wrong direction. We should take the left way. They agreed and we moved ahead. But we didn’t find the route to go out of the jungle. When we were rescued, it was past 12 O’clock,” narrated Himanshu Das. 

The DFO and SDFO admitted that the rescue operation was challenging for them as it was raining and there was also fear of wild animals. 

“After a strenuous search operation, we traced the students at Bhuashuni Khola, located inside the deep forest,” said Bibhuti Mohaptara, SDPO, Dhenkanal. 

“Besides the presence of reptiles and other animals, the area is also known for elephant movement. The terrain, rain and darkness made the operation challenging. On that day, there were elephants at a distant place. Had there been elephants nearby, it would have been more challenging,” said Sumit Kar, DFO, Dhenkanal.

  • Reported by:
  • Rajashree Satpathy

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