North India, The Higher Himalayan Research Walks and Treks, Uttarakhand
Comments 37

FINDING Brahma Kamal: The Divine Flower Seat of Brahma: Nara on a four day trek to Rudranath – IV

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.

Continuing from

Days in the Hidden Valley of Mandal and a Small trek to Ma Anusuyadevi Temple : III

Pandava Forest and the Brahma Kamal : The Nights of Change in the Himalayas : II

and

Finding Brahma Kamal : On a Rainy night from Delhi to Chamoli : I

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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.

Early morning thief, Bhalu was caught eating, with my bag and bed in the background
Monkey, because of whom Sumanto was not able to go for the long walk
another morning, same story


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.

Morning from Pluto’s Lingro Farm in Mandal, where i stayed preparing for the long walk to Rudranath


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.

Neel at Pahari foods local shop at Sagar, looking over last minute must dos; before we leave for the final ascent


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.

The gradual ascend. Leaving behind the Societal Imprints
Looking beyond the clouds, as the journey will end at the top of that mountain, just behind the cotton full of moving woolpack
Mountains are incomplete without them. These mothers are the one because of whom this world is moving
The first Rest
Through the village paths
Coming of the early signs of wilderness
Neel
Sat to hear the water roar yet making a symphony.

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.  

Pung Bugyal
View from Pung Bugyal

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.

Tired.
Leafy, sprightly

I took another round.
and found
myself and
the world beneath me.

Khullar, Our first stop on first day.


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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Thank you.

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 roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


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You also might like to know about My Little SchoolIf 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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Above all, If you have anything to share, or feel like saying a hello, please feel free to write to me at nara@road-to-nara.com

To visit other long-term photographic works, you can visit here.


To follow my walks through the rural Indian Subcontinent, find me at 
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by

Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

37 Comments

  1. Amazing photographs and what a wonderful lourney to be on. Looking forward to being with you in the next installment! 🙏

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    • How lovely to read this dear Ashley. So kind to know how much you liked it.

      And you know its only in the last one which is coming you will see where this path is going to carry us. It will be no less than love.

      And You know, its comforting to know that i have you. Thank you Ashley.

      Narayan x

      Like

  2. What amazing sense of tranquility in the photos Narayan. Also interesting information about Kedars. Was not aware that there are six of them in total.

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    • Thank you for writing so kindly dear Radhika. I seriously tell you that i was only there awkwardly with my camera trying my best to use it as little but knowing how much it means at some times, but knowing that it can carry its serenity to you and observers is contentment. Thank you.

      Like

    • Also, yes Higher Garhwal peaks around Kedar valley is where these Panch Kedars are. And just like Kedars, there are Panch Badris.

      Thank you again dear Radhika. Reading from you always makes me happy.

      Narayan x

      Like

  3. Stunning! How wonderful to read about such an amazing experience. I look forward to more. Your photos are brilliant but I understand the feeling of wanting to just experience everything without the distraction of a camera.

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    • Thank you so much dear Caro. Its a delight when one hears that you are looking forward for more. Thank you so much. As i look forward to surpass myself this summer, dear Caro. I will try to bring Himalayas to you as you have never experienced, or so i shall try.

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    • O yes, it has been the case for the longest time that i get drawn in so deeply in really living and breathing the moments that i feel awkward in even writing or filming at the present time. But i know it is important and hence try my best to carry it with a sense of balance.

      Thank so again for writing so kindly dear Caro.

      Narayan x

      Like

  4. This magnificent essay is a true Ode to the freedom of walking/climbing in the Himalayas,
    a spiritual journey seemingly arranged by the friendly universe that removed all the obstacles to the journey. Perhaps, it was also the help of memes’ self-replicating thoughts which when positive and inspiring can create our reality; it is the inspiring thoughts that are the well-known strengh of Narayan’s writing. When reading the words of this installment of his epic compilation of stories from India, I understood once more that making nature to be the main focus of his writing speaks in a way that enters our hearts and souls. Every detail he provides is mesmerizing, take the example of “the oldest drink of the moon itself” – the water, that in the Himalayas is so pure and sweet you could live on for a long while.
    When Narayan describes the beauty of the Himalayas, even in the monsoon season, instead of wet and mud, he thinks of heaven! In his unforgettable words:
    “..one would be blessed to live in a lifetime.”
    The effect of reading Narayan’s post is making me say: I believe in you and your huge talent
    as it will in time take you to the highest literary achievement!
    Narayan’s professional photography is beyond wonderful, and his extraordinary studies of the sky should be framed and arranged on the wall.
    Thank you, Narayan, for this masterpiece.

    Joanna x

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    • Thank you dearest nature for your most inspiring and beautiful review of this post. More so when i really want you to experience Himalayas as they are, bare, beautiful and divine. And i shall make everything possible for you to experience it as closely as being there until you are there.

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    • And as you asked, it shall be done. I will try to get some Himalayan skies print for you on a good paper for the wall.

      Thank you ever so much for all the love and inspiration. Narayan x

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  5. What a beautiful walk Nara. Thanks for the tour and taking us to many beautiful places. Love the journey in pictures and words my friend. Blessings to you!
    💖🙏🙏💖

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  6. KK says

    What a journey! Covering places not less than heaven, where once Pandavas walked. Whatever difficulties you might have faced on the way, I’m sure the mesmerising views and scenic spots must have more than compensated. Thank you, Narayan ji, for writing one more captivating post with amazing pics.

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  7. This is so deeply felt, it’s almost as if I was there with you. To be in this largely untouched natural environment is always sacred.
    Alison

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    • Alison, I lived it deeply too. Thank you for coming along, as we are just one essay away from reaching and finding that Lotus. Hope you and Don are well and joyfull.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It was in all seriousness other worldly Dawn. And please over look my writing to you after what almost weeks. Was travelling and later finishing the last chapter of this series 🙂 !!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael Graeme says

    Glad to catch up with your writing, Narayan. Such a pleasure to read, and I love that phrase, “when the sky turns sacred”. That spoke very deeply to me. Beautiful photography.

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    • Just saw it today Michael, I had missed reading this. I remember now, the poem on the clouds that came out after this. You are always welcome, dear Michael.

      Like

  9. You make this arduous climb in the Himalayas seem do- able from a spiritual perspectiveFrom my perspective, I’ve always pictured weeks of steep hand climbing on deaths defying slopes as the real intention of these journeys. I like the way you introduce minor characters you meet along the way here.

    Like

    • So long that I wanted to write back to you for this. Time took over. Little travelling and later finishing the last chapter of this series. Your words hideously, subtly appreciative makes me smile. Thank you for walking along friend.

      Narayan x

      Like

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