Saturday, 29 October 2016

Notes from the Himalayas

The planning for this trip started 4 months back when my dad said "Let us visit the highest Jyothirlinga (Among 12 Shivalingas) i.e Kedarnath.

Following the same routine Home-> Office -> Home, my mind said "Why am I going to a pilgrimage tour at this age??" as I was used to the long boring traffic jams of Bengaluru.

It started on 8th of Oct 2016 when we boarded the 6E126 flight to Delhi. We reached Delhi in 3 hours and I was amazed what advancement of technology can do as we had covered 1780 kms in just 3 hours !

Day 1: We reached Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) and our driver/guide was holding a placard to receive Mr. Vasudevan H.R and family. Unknown faces at the beginning had a strong bondage later. Getting to know about him and his family and introducing ourselves to him along the way, traveling through Delhi, Uttarpradesh and Uttarakhand (Dev Bhoomi), we reached Haridwar and checked into the 'Hotel Clarks INN'.

Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI Terminal 3)

Day 2: Haridwar -> Rishikesh -> Gupta Kashi

The experience of witnessing the majesty of Himalayas started from here. After watching the sunrise we left Haridwar and enroute to Gupta Kashi traveled via Rishikesh were the Himalayas start. Rishi's- Shiva's, Kesh- Hair. Shiva's hair is believed to be the Himalayan mountain. Covering 250kms for the day we reached Gupta Kashi where we checked into the 'Hotel Raj Palace' and met some amazing people and witnessed the foot hills of Himalayas for the first time.

View from The Raj palace

Day 3: Gupta Kashi -> Sersi Helipad -> Kedarnath -> Gupta Kashi

With a little fear about the weather as it was freaking cold, we reached Sersi helipad to board the chopper to Kedarnath. Did not sleep the entire night as it was my first chopper ride !

Sersi Helipad to Kedarnath

It is a 14km path to the temple which can be covered either by walk, by horse, by Dholi or by chopper and we chose to go by chopper flying 40000 ft above sea level. The remains of the 2013 floods can be still seen en-route where the skeletons of the unidentified bodies are still there !

And there came the moment when our eyes captured the sight of Kedarnath temple. 
Right in-front of snow covered mountains who's walls tell the story of the havoc caused by floods we entered the temple. There was a  sense of satisfaction and content of seeing the lord after hearing the stories of people who were unable to reach the temple because of loss of breath and other factors. With feeling of fulfillment we returned to the hotel.

The highest Jyothirlinga- Kedarnath temple

Day 4: Kedarnath-> Badrinath

This was the route where there were some splendid views captured, havoc caused by the floods witnessed. Valleys, hairpin curves, landslides, people working day and night to recover from the damage caused by floods, going 15k ft above sea level and coming down, crossing the Ganga river between the mountains were common scenes.  This is the route to discover the scenic beauty of the Himalayas !

 Hairpin curves


After the darshan of lord Badrinath, we reached the 'Hotel Dwarkish' and experienced the cold which was never experienced in the lifetime. -2C was the temperature and the bones started dancing !

Day 5: Badrinath temple-> Mana- The last village -> Jyothi Mutt

After taking early morning shower, we reached the temple. We were amazed to see two hot water ponds which are for the pilgrims to take a holy dip and entered the temple. Right in-front of it flows the Ganga river formed by melting of glaciers and here are two natural hot water ponds. That is why they say "Nature is but a name for an effect, Whose cause is God". 
It is believed that people who are no more get Moksha if there rituals are performed here. We left to Mana after Dad performed rituals.

Lord Badrinath Temple

Mana- The Last Indian Village 

35kms from Badrinath  travelling through the last highway of India we reached 'Mana- The last village of the Indo-China border' 10k ft above sea level.

Mana- The Last Indian Village

Saraswathi river which is considered as Guptagamini (Unseen) can be seen here coming down 12k feet from the mountains and flowing under the earth's surface from there on for miles. It is believed that the Pandavas went to heaven along this path. 35kms away from here is 'The Great Wall of China' and our brave soldiers guard this village for which the villagers are very grateful to them.

 View from Mana

Sarasawathi river which flows as Guptagamini from here on

View from Mana

With great happiness after visiting Mana we reached Jyothi Mutt and checked into the 'Hotel Dronagiri'.

Day 6: JyothiMutt -> Nandaprayag -> Karnayaprag-> Rudraprayag -> Devaprayag -> Vishnuprayag-> Haridwar

After early morning breakfast the first stop was at Jyothi Mutt which hosts a Peepal tree 2.5k year old under which Sri Shankaracharya was enlightened to build the Badrinath temple. This is also one of the peetas among the 4 peetas estabhlished by Sri Shankaracharya.

2500 year old Peepal Tree

Narasing temple is the most prominent temple in Jyothi Mutt where the Utsava Murthy ( Idol meant for procession) of Lord Badrinath is kept for 6 months when the temple remains closed from Balipadyami till Akshaya Tritiya was covered next.

On the way are the Pragyags also called as Sangamas (Place where different rivers meet) where the Alkandni, Mandakini and others rivers meet. It is believed that visiting these Prayags will help in attaining Moksha.






After giving argye to the Sun at all these places we were back to Haridwar -Path to the Lord and checked into the 'Hotel The Clark's INN'.

Day 7- Hardiwar -> Rishikesh -> Haridwar

While having breakfast we realized that it is already seven days that we are away from home and we have to head back the next day. Time just flew unnoticed !

Rishikesh was the first in the list where the only Laksman temple in the world is located which was built after assassinating Ravan. Also is the Lakshman Jhula built by the Britishers which is still standing strong. 

Lakshman Jhula at Rishikesh

The journey to Manasa Devi temple which is on top of mountain in Hardiwar is a special one as it is through the cable car operating back and forth. 

En-route to Manasa Devi temple

At the evening was the Grand Ganga Aarti for which huge crowd gather at the banks of the river Ganga to pay their respect.

The Ganga Aarti

Day 8- Haridwar-> Delhi -> Bangalore

And we woke up to realize that we are heading back to Bengaluru today and there was a sense of disappointment. The only reason for which we were happy was for the Anna Sambar that we missed for the entire week !

En-route to IGI we visited the Patanjali Yoga Peeta and the manufacturing unit from where all Patanjali products are being exported all over the world. It was a indeed great to see the Make in India concept being a hit with slogans like "Let the currency of India be within the country. Encourage Swadeshi products"

 Patanjali Yoga Peeta

5.45pm at the IGI airport was the time when we we started missing the places we visited and recollect the wonderful 7 days that we spent and made up our minds to visit again.

"There were a lot of lessons, lot of things experienced, lot of emotions felt and with a positive vibe we boarded the flight  Indigo 6E127 back to Bengaluru.

My initial opinion of 'Why me to a pilgrimage tour at this age' changed to 'I would have missed a trip of my life time' and I would cherish these moments for my life time !"