FINDING Brahma Kamal: The Divine Flower Seat of Brahma: Nara on a four day trek to Rudranath : IV
The Quest for the Brahma Kamal : On a Rainy night from Delhi to Chamoli : I
Pandava Forest and the Brahma Kamal : The Nights of Change in the Himalayas : II
Days in the Hidden Valley of Mandal and a Small trek to Ma Anusuyadevi Temple : III
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I woke up and saw two Golden Eagles, hovering above me. But my first thought were not the eagles in the sky but the leeches, what if they were dining on my hard earned blood all night! It was fine. One thing that I made peace with since my teaching days in the Karakoram Mountains was the sleeping bag. Travellers start keeping their Heart in there pockets when there is no coming back home; because their life becomes a home itself.
It was a dawn to remember. Cloudless blue skies on a monsoon morning are rare at this altitude. But the wind carried a hint of storm. It was below freezing. We were restful. Neel started the day with flute, while we had a few hot cups of tea. Suddenly, the sound of lightening brought our morning ragas to a halt. Now Rain could arrive anytime. And before it does, it was important to find a place outside to relieve the imprints of yesterday. It wasn’t easy to find but I followed the sound of the fall. I walked barefoot. Every finger-breadth of that land around was a soggy wet bed of leaves that must have been adding one layer at a time ever since.
The eagles were still there, and who knows, how many creatures were hiding like me, even nearby looking at the sky, at her merciless predatory form from their hidden hovels. And it is amusing to realise how animal kingdom has evolved or not at all; thinking about Eagle’s breakfast and lunch, and how they had to fight and kill someone extraordinary as much, each time to eat and fill their stomach or even not. Large and powerful. this graceful flier is the largest of all the Himalayan birds and readily distinguished from all other birds of prey; predating over pigeon, chukor, snowcock, monal and other pheasants. The Nest young feed predominantly on crows and even has the strength and audacity to prey over the Serbian Cranes, flying thousands of feet over the Himalayas towards India or Tibet. Occasionally, there have been reports of predation of young Ibex, domestic lambs, marmots, fawn of musk dear, Ghorals or even foxes at will.
When it rains,
most birds head for shelter.
The eagle is the only bird that,
in order to avoid the rain,
soars higher into the sky and
starts flying above the clouds.
We came back to Earth after a long tour with the Golden Eagles. Huddled together that morning opened our Idea boxes; giving back to the society and how. We talked about conservation, and possibilities there are at our doorstep. Flowers, herbs; various type of bees known to the Himalayas and their art of collecting honey here. The diversity or the range of shoots, wild flora and saplings, important shrubs and vegetables that ones whole life will come short if we start thinking on how to bring this nature to the vast civilisation which is after god knows what riches. And there were ideas about growing Road to Nara into a Travel Therapy module for city children, archiving highly important flora and fauna of this region. Even to start with my school and other enthusiasts to experience this life at an early age. It was all exciting to imagine all of this as we waited for the rain; but the dark clouds floated away again, giving way to the clear skies.
We entered the forest again. But as we entered, it appeared that the thicket had long gone, it was not the forest of yesterday but seemed that we have entered a close-knit society of thriving energies, visible and invisible. The mighty Jungle. The sight and stage had transformed here. The sounds had grown intensive and vivid. At all times each tree, grass, root, room, leaf knew of our presence, that we were there. As if they were watching us. Blooming with an integrated faith that everyone, moving or un-moving, seen or unseen is one aspect of that whole being; on way to Mahadeva’s dev symbolising Rudra, the lord of the animals.
Here, the trees had taken a form that was still arriving. Like overpassing their confines and becoming wild, growing rashly, almost rudely into each other like there is nothing to care for. For the first time I was feeling how a Garden of Eden would have been or it is this that we have come to. Sacred groves growing and becoming there wildest forms, that they could achieve, and achieving their param asna. Always in dhyana, deep solitude. So much so that many layers of other life forms have started living over them. Innumerable Small and big sized multi color mushrooms sprouting wherever they could, various breeds and strains of fungi, moss had taken over the whole jungle, many new plant species, seedlings, sprouts, trees that can never be found anywhere else but here, and some creatures never seen or heard of came in front to probably show their presence to me, many were seen enveloping the other. Trees those who have become their own extensions; multiplying through branches, entangling one with the other becoming a new third, like performing some form of expression. Or may be making out for eternity and something unexplainably other.
On one tree, the wrath of bear nails were etched like screeches in visual sense. Horrifying must be that moment.
It was nature’s most complete museum on display, and as we so amusedly walked onwards looking at right, left and up at all times solely trying to see more, my step kicked a bed of roots coming out of the mountain earth. One joined with the other, and other with another. It looked strange. Potato! Curious, I started digging in there, in the mineral rich wet earth, unearthing through the web of roots and found a whole region of ginger, wild ginger with an aroma of its own. Can a smell also be divine? But that ginger was. How I wish I can pack half a kilo and send to each one of my co-travellers here to taste for themselves. I took out my knife and cut around a kilo of them for us. It was immediate and exciting that we all wanted to taste it at the next stop we will find. And when the time arrived it tasted many times richer than anything ever I had at any home; rather a humanity away from it.
Surprises, ones which can elevate my spirit, like an idea are the ones I get most pleased by. We were allured by nature as if alchemy was at work; we were closing on to that terrain of earth where the ground started looking like a carpet made of roots. Wherever my eyes went, it were all roots. Small, wavering, standing parallel like curly hair on someone’s skull. The ginger was only the start of the root jungle or may be it was the end of vegetable garden someone might have planted decades ago because what started from there were no longer hidden under earth.
Pandavas first entered my lives, only here in the Himalayas, but on the other side of the valley, where I found my guru, dancing on the rhythm of ritual Pandava dance of the Himalayan villages, who for next three months will train me how to touch, and how to heal ones body, showing me each and every point on feet, on head, palms, opening closed arteries close to heart, but not the heart. The one who introduced me to the body chakras and the blooming of lotus petals within us. Who knew that one day i would be looking for the seed of all lotuses, here in the higher valleys, of whom he only spoke of as distant land stories.
This trek became a study in the university of nature. And at a time when whole of North India was at her transforming best; In the monsoons, colours vibrating, everything sprouting, water washing off all that once was, becoming history. Rivers gobbling earth, pushing banks, changing demography, mountains in this region are prone to landslide, rocks falling, it is a complete different land at this time. Just like mother’s body, washing away dirt at a certain time, nothing different.
But we had already left all those obstructions and came so far and so high only to search for that one divine flower, while finding ourselves in the middle of those two layers of clouds. One, which we have already risen above from and second which was still above us, in pure light and glory. It is here where the first time you start feeling entering in the world of others.
Throughout the walk, on most curves, on the mountaintops we found streams, water courses, rivulets, some small falls or just runnels drifting through wherever they could find a way. Its sound became our sound of expression too. At all times only whispering as anything and everything was too overwhelming to imagine or speak about at that time.
The jungle gave way to another highland; after a couple of thousand feet. Once big trees, who had denied the sun touching earth beneath them, themselves started becoming small and expansive. From growing vertically now they were growing parallel to the earth. So much so that on one you may even sleep with a pillow on. Here the signs of life were more apparent. And slowly the forest started giving way to the most beautiful meadows, grazing ranges, never touched moorlands.
As the path took to sky and we were walking on the highest ranges where grasses grew. A dear family was seen looking from the pastures above as a human family was walking by just below them.
The Himalayas were starting to present its magic to us; pastures, small ponds for celestial beings had started to appear, and appeared the choicest of herbs and medicinal plants.
For a long time a known fragrance kept filling our lungs as long as that stretch remained, but we couldn’t perceive its source, till it came right in front to blow our minds. It was Tulsi. Saintly Tulsi revering the wilderness. Smiling, looking at each other with raised brows, we walked on and arrived at a junction where the tops of the two mountains meet. The breeze had carried away all the clouds. And the sun showered his blessings again. Like opening the gateway to light. That sunshine which poets write about, that we read but many can never experience. And here we were on the god’s door, embracing what we were given. We sat. And with us sat our new friend. A black dog.
The adjoining downturn lead to a meadow similar to the one we had left on the other side. Small bushes of Rhododendron trees had shrunken further. Once visible roots had given way to medicinal herbs and a sweeping valley of colourful flowers. We could smell through air ruminating with many fragrances of wild Tulsi, Vajradanti, Agarkara, Vijaya and many other known and unknown shoots and small wild bamboo forms.
Alchemy, wizardry, illusion; but for Neel and Sumanto this was home. The sun played again and without any warning. It started raining. We had been quite lost in looking and observing and had hardly walked as much as we should have. And we were getting slower and taking more breaks. There was no talk of the brahma kamal any more neither there was any hope to see it.
The night was knocking. And it was time to walk blindly faster. We needed to reach the temple tonight. And during this magic hour of the sun setting between the meadows filled with flowers, herbs and ponds, huge rock structures coming, sitting upright felt human-like themselves. More like they were the guardians of the world from here onwards. Seemingly guarding this for a milline-a or more. May be to keep an account of who’s coming. These rocks strangely resembled the biggest faces Himalayas might have seen, species we have known through our history; mammoths, dinosaurs, apes all sitting still and watching us. Even my Guruji once told me a short tale of energies who want to meditate over centuries taking refuge in two foundations on earth. Big trees and Huge rocks, and the ones who disturb these trees or break these rocks, calls calamity on. something changes, nature takes charge.
The evening took the better of us. And we were still considerably far. It was a dark night. And the way was tense. We were rushing past as if it was not a trek but a matrix. Suddenly someone screamed. The sound travelled at the speed of light in that meadow, how unusual. Almost cold-blooded. But who knows how many might have screamed like this in a thousand year old history on this path. Waiting, but gradually started walking again. The screamer screamed again, and shouted to run. Here is a bear!! We had our hearts in our mouth. There was nowhere to go. It was an open field. We could only run like chickens. But we held our ground and sat for a while. But sitting on grass with an unseen bear is confronting fear of the invisible. The valley went quiet. It was unusual as much as it was astonishing.
There was no sound of anything, of any creature or any human but the wind. Neel and Sumanto found their space around the big rock face and slept for a while as I dreamt of the White Lotus and the Pandavas again around these paths. Without any fragrance or any desire of having the diving flower anymore. I was tired. And I had given up. Sat looking up in that night light, when my eyes fell on something I could not believe. Through that darkness, and sea of steam and clouds, I was seeing the snowcapped mountains of Nandadevi, Trishul and the Bandarpooch Massif. It was Astral and I, the myth. I don’t remember when I slept.
It felt we never slept. The fear of bear had us on guard even in our sleep. We stood with a view of a valley filled with colours collected in a soup bowl of a gorge.
We spoke nothing, greeted no one but the nature in front and started walking like finally awakened pilgrims, through this
And reached finally after a gruelling parade to the lord’s doorstep; to the abode of the mighty one, Kalpeshwar Rudranath.
Seeing the holy mountain, flags fluttering was almost thirst-quenching, at least for my co-travellers but for me it was still silently sad. The lotus was nowhere to be seen and upon asking, it was told that one has to walk further for another six kilometres towards Nandi Kund. It was there where the valley of the heavenly Lotus is. Not possible!
We instead walked to the pond behind the majestic temple; through a maze of flowers and a scenery which only love can create. It was the pond, the waters of Saraswati.
In our own, we calmly took baths. Neel played a late morning raga called Shivmat Bhairav. As we all settled, sat there to meditate. The time elapsed and with breeze, droplets started to sink in our skin. My eyes were closed. There couldn’t be anyone around but us. Yet something fell on my lap. It could still be a trap to break my deep meditative state. I didn’t open my eyes. As It is not even advised. But in that time a fragrance arrived. One which arose my senses. All of them, carrying me to a state which was even deeper. And when I opened my eyes, on my lap I found that i had never seen, never held; one of the biggest, most beautiful Lotus for which I my soul had walked thus far.
It wasn’t only I who was looking for the divinity, it was also the divinity taking care of me. He graced us just at that moment when all other moments had subsided. Without asking anymore. When all my queries had made peace with my heart; without any want or any craving, anymore longing. May be or certainly this is how life grows you, blooms you, starts living through you.
What looked distant and never reaching arrived without asking. As I Carried the Brahma Kamal with me.
Aum Rudraya Namah
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Summarising the direction for the reader who cannot wait to leave.
Bus from ISBT Kashmere Gate to Gopeshwar, Garhwal Uttarakhand. Gate number 8(490 Kilometres) – 2030 Hours – INR 550/-
Due to heavy rains I had almost abandoned my journey but adventure came in between. I queried and found the only private bus which took the longest detour and dropped me at Rudraprayag after 14 hours. Where I had to run to get the last bus that was going to Mandal. I reached the village at 2300 hours. – extra INR 500/-
Gopeshwar to Sagar (11 Km) – You can find local bus or Taxi. – INR 300/-
Stayed at friend’s place – Priceless
If you wish to do Ma Anusuyia and Rishi Atri Ashram Trek, which you must, you can get further down at Mandal- a village 6 kilometres ahead from Sagar. Many walkers and Trekkers start from Anusuiya temple trek to go to Rudranath, it is harder, undoubtedly beautiful but in monsoons not advisable.
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Note – For my Road to Nara family, I am sharing Pahadi Foods online website where You can get access to the best quality of Organically produced foods and spices for yourself and your family here.
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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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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 here
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 email@example.com
To visit other long-term photographic works, you can visit here.