The morning arrived. A big day. Like a loved one’s birthday. And everything was planned. Even the time calculated for leisure. But leisure comes at a price. Millions abstain from eating that day. Reason could be their own. Mine was to celebrate. I had already spoken to Pandit Ji, I will be spending the night at the temple and hence I was taking the day lightly. I ate Moong Halwa, whatever was left of it. And stepped out for a stroll outside, to see the clouds, to breathe a few times deeply. To spread se beans and chapatis for birds and a ferocious black dog with whom I shared a biscuit and since then we were best of friends. Nearby I found a trail and was looking for the stream following its sound, when a local woman standing on the roof of her home, located on the top of that cottage hill called me thrice in succession. She stood right up at an angle close to 90 degrees asked me again if she can come along with me to the temple? Silence. Temple! Where is the temple? And when did I say I was going? I thought to myself. She screamed again, can i come now? Now! I couldn’t say No. And during that wait She told me to wait.
And now I was waiting.
She arrived all dressed in Sari and a plate filled with flowers, rice, dal, kumkum- the red turmeric powder and bael leaves. I didn’t even know if there was a temple nearby. I let the woman lead me. I was kind of taken aback with how events turn in life. Without any prior knowledge, planning or may be desire I am pushed towards the direction of the lord. And how? I only had to say yes, in this case even not that. And once we were on the way, the woman found so many other women walking towards the temple that she walked ahead and away. I just strolled behind, observing all things around me and absorbing trees, birds, branches, sounds of children, or the silence in between. One moment at a time. It was a sweet walk. Unhurried. As i saw the temple structure unwinding, emerging from the Jungle.
This temple was a different one. Situated at the top of Simtola Ecological Park. Same park where I had found many swings, standing alone, quiet, away as if they were not needed. The temple was old structured and away from the knowledge of most travellers. There is no way I would or could have come here. I don’t believe in luck. Every thing is connected. Just like our breaths. Just like the blinking of our eyes. Nirantar. Ongoing till one dead drops.
There were quite a few people humming together already. Fragrant Smoke of incense was carrying the mood of many. Chirpy but meditative. It was such an early morning present. A gift of energy on Shiva’s morning, called by the lord himself. Through a mother like woman who had invited me with herself to here. And now was no where to be seen. I walked around with folded hands observing the festivity. Locals seemed involved after what had been couple of years of absence; praying, sitting, worshipping, Kids playing, adults taking selfies, men sun bathing when I was distracted by someone sprinkling water at me; It was her- the woman. she put tilaka on my forehead and gave me prasadam. She asked me if I can make it back to the cottage? Yes I can. I couldn’t say much even though i wanted to express my gratitude. She left and I explored the park.
Had I had not given my words to the temple priest, my day was already done. But Shiva’s night is little different from how householders know of it. It starts when the sun goes to sleep. When most beings become quiet and find themselves in stillness. When stars and planets have a go at your placements. The time of deep solitude and darkness, and in that darkness of the fourteenth night; the tryst is to become one with your beinglessness.
Readers will remember the time I left for the Almora market where I went to the great G.B Pant Museum of History. And inspiration strikes. It was the day of memory and Importance. In time, I got all what was needed; curd, honey, sweets, cannabis leaves, bel and some hash. I reached Kasar devi a little late than I had intended to. More so because I was filming my journey and the space around. The crank’s ridge, famous for and by the name of Hippie’s trail was enchanting to just walk around, looking at couples and other people doing various things with their time on it. I made images and some videos. When I reached at the top, a small fair of which i was completely unaware of, was being wrapped up. The fair organisers were the Tibetian Refugees from the nearby Dolma restaurant, whose momos will be delicious I found out later.
People were leaving just like the leaving sun. The fragrance was roaming around here too. In a blink the day was done. And the night was dawning. The darkest night it is said. But nobody mentioned the cold. By now it had started to obstruct thinking. The hardest is to sit straight while keeping sleep at bay. Very hard. As I sat trying to be present, to present myself in my most aware self families, and soon some people started coming in when I quietly went under the rock where Swami Vivekananda sat once as Pandit ji handed me the keys to go there and tell your Swamiji that you are here where he once was. ( importance of this place, the history and about the secret cave where all those spirits, those yogis, swamiji sat).
Almost hidden, beside the temple wall which gave way to a huge monolith rock. I pleasantly sat. This time closing my eyes. But it did not make much difference. It was cold. And it was darker. I constantly kept making myself felt drawn towards Swamiji’s presence, his face, of what all my memory has accumulated till then, but what more. Stars came out. From there on the top of the mountain I could see whole of Almora in lights like starts above. Stars were down too, And I was sitting there, seeing. In between.
And not only stars but whole milky way could be seen on that night above. Stars like distant fireflies twinkling throughout the valley of Almora was a sight I carried back from that night.
And also a stick, as two in the morning, out of nowhere when i was starting my walk back to my cottage, somebody filled my ears. That the leopard is hungry these days. Thinking, as I searched for that stick, another person started looking for it too.
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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, will take 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 might also like to know about My Little School Project. If you wish to come over for a visit someday, that you must, you will be heartily welcome here
If you would like to contribute to my travels, you can please do so here
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If you have anything to share, or feel like saying a hello, please feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To visit other long-term photographic works, please visit here.