While studying culture and ancient practises in the Higher Himalayas.
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Sumanto was waiting by the roadside, in front of the fisheries department. It was late in the night, very late by the mountain ways of life. Yet the most relieving part was that i wasn’t alone. With me was the last government bus, which i had to run after, in Rudraprayag to catch it. Had it not been that moment, i wouldn’t be making it even in my 30th hour of leaving New Delhi.
It was cold. It was heavy. The restrain of the night, one which arrives after many days of rain. The climatic depression could still be felt. I could hear the droplets dropping off the leaves as I could hear myself heaving. The bus stopped. I bid byes to the driver, the conductor as i had been the only one riding with them since evening. I was finally stepping out of the bus.
Sumanto’s smile turned into a laugh. I laughed. His two dogs started running around. I was meeting him after years, don’t know even how many. He hadn’t changed but he had. He looked leaner, may be more loner; in a great way. Beard, thicker and longer. Like always he had with him something to drink, rather the variety of drinks find a way to reach him.
I met Pluto, as i have known him for years; through a teacher friend who was with me during my teaching days in Baltistan. And all these years, we seemed to be on an unusually weird journey, one which he and I had been together on and not at all; polls apart in our nature and being but somewhere strangely meeting. Pluto left the human world to make plans with plants, first in Himachal and now in the higher Himalayas of Uttarakhand. He had asked me to get waterproof trekking shoes for him from Delhi, as we made plans to walk in the mountains even though he has never been much of a walker, and neither was he a flower, herb, or a culture man. So much so that he hadn’t even left this small valley of Mandal for over two years now.
More than 800 days, wow!
But he was that one man who had come to help me on my first film back in 2016, when i was working on top of a Landfill. The biggest shit space of everything human and non-human in Delhi. He came, even against my expectation on a rainy day to stand on the mountain of shit, with a sound recorder for I wanted to record the many sound frequencies coming out of the landfill. That poisonous earth under us, he was there. He was there as it rained. Sumanto had come then, for the first time in his life to stand on that Garbage mountain.
And today, almost five years later, leaving all what is called a city; he is living and working at a farm as a Permaculturist. Experimenting with the ways of growing herbs, vegetables or anything that can be made gold out of earth. A goldsmith.
That night, it was my turn to walk to his mountain place, It was drizzling and this time it was me who was assisting him in his great mis-adventure.
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Days that followed were too intimate, were spent learning and observing in silence. Pluto had dogs to feed, some work that always demanded his presence or so he thought. Even that one time when i felt that he might not even find days and energy to peacefully make way for a week and come along on the journey to find the divine Brahma Lotus, but he was thinking, as i was persisting and during that we lived together, spending few days walking, eating, exploring. I, acclimatising before that long walk to heaven began; we went to pay our homage to the ancient mother Anusuiya and Rishi Attri, whose son i pray to daily, three headed trinity himself, the lord of tantra; Guru Dattatreya.
Sharing those few days around Gopeshwar; in the valley of Mandal here with my extended family of Road to Nara.
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The tiny village home, where Pluto lived when he had first arrived from Delhi. Accompanied by Bhalu and Monkey; the dogs. Here looking at the far away springs on the right.
The curious mountain water buffalo.
Here we had kind of invited ourselves to lunch at a neighbours place; just like the neighbour invites himself to sit with Pluto most nights. After wandering whole day we had reached around evening.
Ancient Lentil Chaunsa dal and Mandua Roti. These are said to be ancient crops. Even hundreds of years before rice and wheat were grown; what we ate that evening was the most nutritious food; hardly available even in Indian cities rather i must say, no one opts for them anymore.
Old house, Gopeshwar.
Sumanto, procrastinating over to go or not to go.
A rare sunny day in the monsoon, here i loved how cactus was looking like receptors. On a school’s roof.
Pluto’s Perma farm, Gopeshwar.
The old mud-stone house where i stayed. In front of what many people call Siva-Ganga or Balkhila river.
Its the women who have held the world together, and it can be said for the Himalayas. The woman farmer here seen from our home.
The next day, as clouds gathered, we started our walk to the Anusuiya temple.
On the Way
While leaving the valley of Mandal behind.
Bamboo Shoots lining around the wall
A village home, woman greeted us with a smile
Lord Dattatreya Mela(festival) at Anusuiya Temple, where we were heading to in 1977. I saw this at a small tea shop. When a short halt for tea felt needed.
Grass and moss taking over the jungle tree.
Walking the Jungle
The inscription engraved on the surface of a weather-worn rock is located on the left side of birdle path leading to Anusuyadevi temple. The inscription is comprised of seven lines of writing and is in sanskrit language and northern brahmi script.
The inscription mentions that one Kshtriya Naravarman under the Maharajadhiraja Paramesvara Saraverman, constructed a water reservoir and a temple for the merit of his parents as well as his own.
Dyansty of Sarvarman is not mentioned in the record however on the basis of palaeography, it is assigned to the middle of the 6th century AD. On this basis and imperial title Maharajadhiraja, the king may be identified as Maukhari king Sarvaraman who is known to have ruled from circa 576 to 580 AD.
It is a meritorious inscription for the benefit of the pilgrims on ancient pilgrimage routes. This inscription is historically significant in this region as this is the earliest inscription mentioning a ruling king in Uttarakhand after the Mauryan king, King Ashoka’s Kalsi Rock edict.
There were hardly any travellers, or pilgrims on that day. Here it is cautioned here about this monument that it is of National importance.
Beautiful Ganesha temple, which is said to be sculpted out of a rock. I spent sometime sitting in front reciting some hymns in lord Ganesha’s praise.
An empty, lone old village home, on the way to Anusuya temple.
Here Sumanto paying homage to the only Devdar tree. Finally after reaching the temple.
Here, from the roof, Sumanto looking over.
Bells and bells rang everywhere.
When the Pandavas visited
Shiva family behind the temple
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Also read : A Brief history of the Ancient Temples in India
The way to the temple
The meadow outside
Ma Anusuyadevi Temple
And the gateway to the divine flower valley, Himalayas
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If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste
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I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;
As a co-traveller, taking you through the Ten Lessons I learnt from several years on the road, before you coarse on your own Road to Nara.
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If you are still here, you might like to know about My Little School. If you wish to come over for a visit, to share your stories or one of your magic tricks with children, you are heartily welcome.
If you would like to contribute to this project by funding a student to plant a tree or towards his education, you can please do so here
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Above all, If you have anything to share, or feel like saying a hello, please feel free to write to me at email@example.com
To visit other long-term photographic works, you can visit here.