They say, “once you decide what you really want, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Only in my dream I once imagined myself walking towards one Brahma Kamal in the Higher reaches of the Himalayas, and today it was happening.
Days in the Hidden Valley of Mandal and a Small trek to Ma Anusuyadevi Temple : III
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It wasn’t easy to get Pluto to walk. Not because he did not want to, but he had Bhalu and Monkey, two dogs to feed. The play of life is such, that in first place I wasn’t even coming towards Gopeshwar to find my Divine Lotus; I was only going to the valley of Flowers. But Pluto’s presence in the valley nearby bum-steered my belief for a friend’s company.
Somehow, ever since I have known Sumanto, and it’s been over ten years; he has always had either a battalion of dogs or humans around him, or him around them at any given time. But time, like luck changes in matters of will. Shera arrived at the farm out of nowhere. A Nepali man living and working in the Indian Himalayas since childhood, with Bela- a Labrador and her 13 new-borns. Pluto was smiling!
That night, they rediscovered their love and respect for each other becoming brothers for life out of mere acquaintance over local liquor. And which only got finished early next morning.
Yet even before that night happened Pluto knew he could leave the dogs, with Shera and twelve others. And I knew that the journey to find the divine Lotus is finally going to happen.
Even seasoned trekkers say, and locals agree, ‘Rudranath ki Chadai, German ki Ladai’ i.e Scaling Rudranath is like fighting with the Germans. It was an old saying nobody knew where it came from. Perhaps from a German who might have come here years ago.
I am hopeful that every adult in India has heard about Kedarnath. It’s the most ancient Shrine nestled deep and high into the Himalayas established by the Pandavas. But what most might not have heard is that actually there are five Kedars; connected with the sixth one, Pashupatinath temple of Nepal. The Panch Five Kedars of India comprise of five Kedar temples – Kalpeshwar, Tungnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Rudranath and Kedarnath. Amongst them Rudranath is the farthest and the most scenic of them all whose valleys lead to the elusive Nandi Kund, where Brahma Kamals bloom in the night. Decades ago, pilgrims used to walk for months making it to all five, and only a handful of blessed ones to the sixth Kedar by foot.
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Sagar, home to a few families village is where we stood that morning. Looking to the mountaintops and the beyond. At the bare mountains, and somewhere under it, mountain sweat had collected like a Beehive in the secret corners of these old rocks- ‘Shilajit- The pure nectar of the mountain’, said Neel. But I wasn’t very sure because these mountains are well vegetated, they remain wet most of the year and are frequently distracted by rain and construction dust. We came from Mandal village, Sumanto’s farm to Neel’s house for the last minute preparations.
It was going to be a long journey; twenty-two kilometres- people said. And rains will only be waiting to pour. We all got some snacks from Pahari Foods. A co-operative which is working with the local community to produce their food organically, naturally and with the best of intentions for the farmers and for the nature. We bid bye to the people sitting in the shop, crossed the road and at last started walking the walk to Rudranath.
Every start of any walk comes from a resolution of sort which takes birth either on whim or long back like in my case. But a walk such as this. That promises divinity rather God himself, starts from chaos, and may be indecision.
As we slowly started moving up and away from the village sounds; passing by the last of the village fields, local crops, fields of lemon grass, corn, lavender in and around the temporary housing or cattle sheds meeting us with a wind like essence; like fragrance staying for a while only to leave. And when all settlements slowly became history; what arrived was the wealthiest, all nature rich, the sweetest of them all mountain water that remained with us for all four days. I may exaggerate but if I can only live on mountain water if I am to die, I will certainly die the richest death. Else who would come to heaven to go back? I was walking for the first time in this region. At this height. Only to meet with valleys a silence already in centuries of meditation; of nectar like water which became a constant, leading us to that one sound of eternity. And of beings I would have never heard or known otherwise. Creatures, flowers, herbs, grasses, roots. At a time when water was washing everything away, not because it does, but because we were walking in the monsoons. Natural taps had sprung out of leaves, many a creek, rivulets, springs, falls becoming a river under incessant rain, only auspiciously or by happy chance kept giving us the way. Kept us alert, kept us sparkling. On a walk which only promised taking you to eternity; unending falling water was such a sight, the choicest of minerals, almost robbing rocks of its vitality and putting its essence in water that kept finding its way into our stomach; vines, blossoms, buds, clusters, pompons off their prana becoming soma- the oldest known drink of the moon itself; carrying their spirit in totality, the running nerve of the Himalayas. Rare, alone, free of debt. And imagine you drink it. And you keep drinking it all day long, for days. It becoming you, and you becoming it.
We were climbing the most memorable story one would be blessed to live in a lifetime.
A gruelling uphill walk, which many a times only fell short to touching my nose to the mountain earth while trekking up for most part of the day, when out of nowhere the narrow path opened to the Pung Bugyal. A serene meadow that almost felt like an Oasis right between the forest. There, an over smart, over friendly adult, much younger than me was holding a cow by her horns, and kept pushing his thumb ardently at the soft spot right where horns meet, just over the cow’s head. Even though it looked they both knew each other to play this way but it was visibly troubling the cow and once it got too much, she almost took that boy up on her horns, and with force threw him far; It was like a log falling on the ground after being cut. Dead. Or so we all thought. We rushed. But he opened his eyes. The smile was gone and gone were all the smirks. As we looked on, he got up by himself and started walking towards the forest as if the hit had turned him into a monk, never looking back.
Monsoon time in the forests is the most liveliest of times. Every single cell is charged with cheerful, elated energy; movement and water like motion. But on these mountains it could also be most troublesome and for some, horrifying. Because the moment we sat, thinking of resting on the grass as luxury, a team of leeches was seen walking with a motive. Really strange looking creatures. Can’t even see any legs or eyes, like they are not funny people. Not at all, Pluto thought aloud. Even though their presence on the body is sweet, almost negligible. But for some reason anybody drinking blood is kind of gory. While I sipped my tea, blood started showing just under my right thigh. The fear for the jokes(as we call them here) is prevalent in the society, and there have been quiet a few cases, where they had entered in some body parts, which gave them the name of adult jokes. And for some passing time in the lower ridges their presence on my body kept me busy in my mind, even though there was never, nothing.
May be it were the fear of leeches, we decided to walk on from there. And this time as we walked into the forest, so dense that it turned the day into night. No sun. And the sounds floated from all directions like our coming was welcomed with an orchestra. It suddenly felt it was not an ordinary forest. We had entered a Jungle.
We unconsciously, collectively became quiet. The presence of elemental beings pulled us into a chronicle. The path like maze, an ever going Z, always going up. It was demanding, as it was thrilling. Each step had to be measured and planted well. Everything was wet, and the mountain earth black, gunky, muddy, soggy, swampy. The brushes of orange had started to appear right above us. The colors of the magic hour. How long do we have to keep walking today? I quietly asked myself. One step at a time. And always a feet higher than the last. So far away from home, in the Himalayan forest filled with all kinds beasts and stories, who can even imagine on that evening or on any evening, their son could be walking on the trails where Pandavas roamed once.
I took another round.
the world beneath me.
We reached Khullar i.e the open place. It was the most beautiful open space one could ask for, if one ever asks for open skies to sleep under. We had just arrived at the time of sun setting. Rana Ji was sitting making a bamboo basket. He knew Neel already, and so well that he had saved last few Pegs of ‘Old Monk’ for both Sumanto and Neel, and for himself for the night. Just enough to Rejoice in their sleep.
Rana Ji used to work at Pahadi Foods Factory• at Sagar, where Neel lives; where we had started from in the morning.
While they spoke I came out of the hut. The Sky had turned sacred and was turning supernaturally every moment like anything I had ever seen until that evening. The clouds moved in and out of mountain well as if they were really at play, a theatre play of clouds as gold loitered in the sky. It was so mesmerising that I could not move my pupil to even blink, for until it became dark. It was so hard for me to Photograph as I kept feeling strange; guilty of even using my camera for i might never see this again with my eyes. And I couldn’t use my camera for a very long time. What was outside of my body couldn’t be missed. It was swarga. And I cannot really state it anything otherwise. That scape, that pure, ideal light, the clouds, their formation was beyond my belief. And believing, that there could be something beyond. I remembered the Pandavas, who are attributed to find the ways around these mountains. But exactly to find what way? The way to heaven. And for it they first must find Shiva. The legend goes.
And it was this time of the evening, when Turiya and Ramakrishna entered my mind. The seed was planted looking over these clouds.
To be Continued.
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Note – For my Road to Nara family, I am sharing Pahadi Foods online website here. You can get access to the best quality of Organically produced foods and spices for yourself and your family here.
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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You also might like to know about My Little School. If you wish to come over for a visit, to share your stories or to share one of your magic tricks with children, you are heartily welcome.
If you would like to contribute to this project or towards my travel to letting me keep bringing you the secret landscapes of nature, you can please do so here
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