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Amarnath in the times of article 370

Even after thinking about doing something daily, one ends up doing it, achieving it, finishing it only in the head. In the head is good, as it creates enough compound interest in head but it is not good enough.

I have had ups and downs, and have been away from home for some time. I was in Kashmir when article 370 was taken off. I was one of the last person to have trekked the majestic Amarnath ji this year. Without any plan or any inclination to have wanted to do it but surrendering to flow of life is such it takes you along on the paths, and you would enjoy. I fell in love with the harmony of the few people who walked along, some saints barefoot, and two without a leg who finished approximately sixty kilometres in as many days as I did. Food, sweets, tea, love and the name of shiva.

But the feeling was erratic even then. Tents, people were leaving a month before. And many had already left. The way was completely empty of any pilgrim coming from the other side. Probably that also made it count. It was quiet and you walked with your own self, slowly, quietly.

Phone lines and internet was called off a day after I arrived back home in Srinagar. I couldn’t get time to make any arrangements of leaving as it had become intense to stay over. It was a very vulnerable time in the valley and who knows what is going on even now. It took me nine more days to come out of the valley. I found a punjabi driver from Jammu early in the morning almost ready to leave. It was a beautiful morning over Dal. You could see clouds gathering over the ancient waters and over the Mahadev hill. The way back was as tense. We were stopped numerous times even before Banihal came, because on the other side, you would not imagine how many trucks, cadres, were filling in the valley. Testing time for a government who had just arrived three weeks ago and even before anyone could have blinked on something as mammoth an article as 370, which had probably made Kashmiri’s, laddakhis, Pandits, Punjabis as special and as vulnerable of their identity for all these decades after independence.

I had worked myself as a researcher and teacher in the border villages, in the most gruesome winters and thus have an idea of how the minds of local authorities work in contention and sometimes not in harmony with the army. How people can never almost challenge the claims and information that these authorities gather.

Things are bound to change.

I am sitting in a mud room in the outskirts of Laddakh. Writing after so long on my blog even though I wrote it daily in my head. I hope I present myself daily. Because this blog is not for me. This is for you. And if you are reading this right now, you may let me know.

Two weeks have passed. Two weeks are to come. The nights have become colder. Laddakh has been very kind. It’s the land of awakening. I came here in 2007 on my bike when rivers still went through roads. And somebody then had told me the full form of Leh that I took seriously then but I have never forgotten it. Life Ends Here. Or it starts again.

I am working on my first photo book here. On the work that I did in Cambodia. I will share more news soon but before all that comes out, I will be hitting the road again. May be to Zanskar, or may be to meet my children again to the village I taught 8 years ago.

Till then,

A very warm hello to you all again.

In Omni to Hanley

Starless night
winter
Old Donkey
barking
at the new comer

Scan156

To zojila, to Leh, to Hanle, to tso moreri, to i don’t know what pass that came after hundred’s of horses ran to take left, we took towards sky- a concrete river bed on top of a conical mountain which went all afternoon. Many called it a road. Through a broken bridge, through the ditches connecting another ditch on the Yoga day. While laughing at others. While laughing atourselves. While stopping before every loop to the mountain up. The dancing carrier. The nostalgia of the petrol fumes over six days. As every bicycle left us behind. Our omni made it across the Rohtang. But always carry two people to push it through. We needed many only once.

On the road with Omni | July 15.

Namaste to the Sun: An Ancient Yogic Way to Glow from Within and Lose Belly Fat.

I had gone to my old Yoga school on a long walk. Not to meet anyone but to eat fruits. From an elderly woman who has been sitting outside Yoga centre ever since, with a fruit basket. “Mango aren’t yet sweet, I was about to tell her”, when she introduced me to a police man sitting beside, telling him that I am a Yoga Teacher.

I finished my fruit Salad. About to leave when he requested me to come near and asked in a hushed voice, what to do when your face is darkening? Quiet. I wanted to hear more. It is my wife, she is also gaining a lot of weight. She isn’t old. 47 Years. What to do?

Hearing these two queries took my intuition and understanding towards the Source; The Sun. And Since the Origin of Yoga is centered around and incipiently with worshipping the Sun, I started with telling him about how human civilisation and life actually started around Fire, and fire worship in form of the Sun on Earth, i requested him a few things. Only If she can start her day with Surya Namaskar; Salutations to the Surya Dev first thing in the morning, the giver of energy to the world, for self Vitalisation. I asked him to look over this video for assistance as I didn’t want to do the 12 postures right there on the roadside.

Because first thing that the practice of Surya Namaskar in the direction of the sunrise will do is that it will start maintaining an optimal Vitamin D in the body. Also, solar plexus located behind the navel in the human body is connected to the Sun. The practice of 12 postures of the sun salutation series enhances the solar plexus which, in turn, increases the level of Oxygen in the body, greatly enhances the flow of blood along with creative, intuitive, and other sensitive abilities in the practitioners. I told him even though it is best to practise before or even at the time of the rising sun, but one can perform whenever it feels comfortable.

I even made him write the mantras that go with each posture, more because I could feel he was intrigued and wanted to know it well and right.

Stand facing the east at dawn and recite the mantras to pray Surya Dev and offer flowers, rice grains with water or simply offer water and perform Surya Namaskar. There are 12 Mantras which are different names of Sun God. With each posture, a particular Mantra is chanted.”

𝐒𝐮𝐫𝐲𝐚 𝐍𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐤𝐚𝐫 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 :

12 सूर्य नमस्कार मंत्र :

1. ॐ मित्राय नमः (Aum Mitraya Namaha) – One who is friendly to all

2. ॐ रवये नमः (Aum Ravaye Namaha) – The shining one, the radiant one

3.  ॐ सूर्याय नमः (Aum Suryaya Namaha) – Who is the dispeller of darkness & responsible for bringing activity.

4. ॐ भानवे नमः (Aum Bhanave Namaha – One who illumines, the bright one.

5.  ॐ खगय नमः (Aum Khagaya Namaha) – Who is all-pervading, one who moves through the sky.

6.  ॐ पुष्णे नमः (Aum Pushne Namaha) – Giver of nourishment and fulfillment

7. ॐ हिरण्यगर्भाय नमः  (Aum Hiranyagarbhaya Namaha) – Who has golden color brilliance.

8.  ॐ मारिचाये नमः (Aum Marichaye Namaha) – The giver of light with infinite number of rays.

9.  ॐ आदित्याय नमः (Aum Adityaya Namaha) – The son of Aditi, the cosmic divine Mother.

10. ॐ सावित्रे नमः (Aum Savitre Namaha) – One who is responsible for life.

11. ॐ आर्काय नमः (Aum Arkaya Namaha) – Worthy of praise and glory.

12. ॐ भास्कराय नमः (Aum Bhaskaraya Namaha) – Giver of wisdom and cosmic illumination.


: ँ :

As with anyone, moving body is as hard as giving exams without preparation expected to pass. I knew Asanas or the Yogic Poses are the hardest thing to do. Hence to make things doable I asked the Officer to First get her to clean her blood and Ama i.e toxins and undigested metabolic waste. If she can start taking half Tsp. Turmeric and and less than half Tsp. Neem powder daily on a empty stomach with Luke warm water. Similarly just before sleeping, if she can only take alum water to gargle and drink just two Tsp of it, it will clean her colon to a great extent and she will start feeling the change and lightness in the body.

He wrote it rapidly on a piece of paper. But for my co-travellers who are young and exploring different dimensions of Body and heart, I thought of sharing some rewards of this daily practice while becoming one with the Nature.

10 Health Rewards/Benefits of Yogic Salutations to the Sun


1. Surya Namaskara as a Gratitude Practice

Sun salutations were born out of deep reverence for the sun, that great ball of fire that warms us, makes plants grow and makes all of nature flourish. The yogis created the sun salutation to pay homage to the sun each morning at sunrise. In doing so, they were practicing gratitude, whether you realize it or not. In pranamasana, the hands are folded in Namaste position close to the heart. Scientifically, the folding of hands together connects the right and left hemisphere of the brain.

2. Magnifies the Blood Circulation:

The active inhalation and exhalation process throughout the Sun salutation series keeps the blood oxygenated and lungs ventilated. The optimal flow of fresh blood in the body is a great way to detox the body making it free from toxic elements and carbon dioxide.

3. Focuses Your Mind

Sun salutations can be thought of as tools for the mind. They get you focused and on the right track, especially first thing in the morning. When you attune your breath to your movement, you’re bringing your attention into the present moment, which supports clarity of mind and present-moment awareness. These are really essential characteristics to have if you want to evolve on the yogic path.

4. Glowing Skin and Luscious Hair:

The Sun Salutation incorporates diverse yoga asanas that enhance the supply of blood and oxygen to these regions helping you savor a youthful glow and long-healthy mane even during old age.


5. Oxygenate Your Cells:

As you increase the length of your inhalations and exhalations, you are bringing an increased supply of oxygen to your cells. Increased oxygenation of your cells is believed to prevent fatal diseases like cancer. It also improves lung health the body’s ability to detox. Because of this, statistics show that cancer patients are now increasingly considering oxygen therapy. When we increase our blood oxygen levels, we’re fighting free radicals, which also helps cognitive function. This means our mind will function better as we age. Therefore, sun salutations can actually slow the ageing process of the mind.

6. Enhances Fitness and Flexibility:

The Surya Namaskar is a comprehensive workout that benefits the entire body. The diverse 12 postures stretch, strengthen, and boost fitness levels of the body. The Ashtanga Namaskar works on the joints of wrists, the forward fold extends the limbs and makes the spine supple, and so much more.

7. Activates the Heart and Helps Bringing Nature Close:

As the hands are join together in front of the heart centre opens one to humility and Gratitude. And when once you are open to these gifts, nature open to you. As they say Nature, nurtures.

8. A Remedy for Blood Pressure and Heart Problems:

Surya Namaskar is a natural remedy for blood pressure. The Surya Namaskar benefits the heart muscles and corrects irregular heartbeats. The practice also keeps sugar levels in control thus keeping the heart problems at bay.

9. A Very Happy Gut:

Due to the alternate stretching and compression of the abdominal organs in the Sun Salutation Series, the digestive fire gets activated that helps get rid of constipation and other stomach problems. A happy and healthy gut is one of the most regarded health benefits of Surya Namaskar.

10. Helps Building Immune System for One and All. Travellers or even Office Goers:

With the practice of Surya Namaskar enhance the health of your body, mind, and soul. It is one of the best ways to keep the body free from diseases and to lead a life of youthfulness, vigour, and positivity.

: ँ :


Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


: ँ :


I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

As a co-traveller, taking you through Ten Lessons I learnt from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


: ँ :

You might also 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 here

If you appreciate what you read on the blog, you can support it by contributing towards my travels. it will let me keep bringing you all the secrets, stories and landscapes of nature and life to you. If you live in India You can do it here. And If you are living outside India, please drop me a mail.

: ँ :

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 
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

The Last Journey to Ganga and Scenes from my Ancestral Village : A Photographic Essay

Visiting Grand Parents used to be the only time when the Joy of having many umbrellas multiplied the possibilities of games, laughter and Humour.

But one day without any knock, or warning grandmother died an exceptionally unusual death. All those years the perception that I carried of association, I could never feel it again towards my birth home, my birth courtyard, after grandmother was gone. No sense of belonging. My village had started to look congested. May be that was why parents must have left it. In 1982.


On the mud terrace of our ancestral home, fragrance of cow-dung cakes still brings to my mind the nostalgia of my grandmother cleaning the courtyard every morning. Even before the sun would rise; while telling me with love to keep sleeping. Upla* are still used for cooking and cleaning. And just last week were also used for lighting the pyre of my uncle. Father’s eldest brother.

Death of a family pillar changes a lot of dimension. For one It brings overwhelming, repulsive, abominable silence in homes. I felt this once I arrived in that room again, after all those years. I don’t remember the last time I was inside it. So much had changed, but also it was all the same. The sound of an elderly man taking tea from the saucer instead of the cup. Outside an abandoned mobile tower provided new patterns of keeping Uplas emerge. Sound making squirrels arrived, cows mooed, chirping birds and the circulating sound of one sewing machine handle, made heat bearable. One Charpoy* under neem tree pulled all the children to it. The tree absorbing everything and made sitting under pleasant.

I sat watching comers and goers. Nearby a hand scooping up the water from a well became its first vessel. And the fingers of both hands intertwined becoming its first basket. Elderly commanding the kids, as each command was leaving an undesirable sting in children who were forced to carry that out. Where there was nothing before, within moments a few people came together, standing just like that. Without any planning, any announcement. There was perfect mystery, image worthy symmetry, without any appeal, expectation or motif, without any words spoken they were there. Transmitting. And remarkably all sat where they stood, together. Looking, away from the body, asking what was already established and then again becoming quiet after knowing the known.

Evening dawned. A new born baby cried out of hunger. The crowd stood marvellously together. No body had eaten anything. Anything since last night. And will not eat for the next three days in that same house where the death has happened. But children were found eating biscuits which they had bought from the only shop in the village. They asked anyone whom they caught seeing them, to eat. But It was time to start the last walk. People were asked to see the face for the last time. The cries of women filled the sky again. How could an image collect cries? Or at least I shall try.

Sharing the final walk towards mother Ganga.

Death Ritual
Coming to the Ganga Ghat in Uttar Pradesh
mourning
Burning the Pyre
Going into the Ganga
Wandering in the dark
Hiding and Waiting
Mourning
Going in the river
Myself lit by the fire from the Pyre
The journey of the soul.


: ँ :

Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


: ँ :


I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

As a co-traveller, taking you through Ten Lessons I learnt from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


: ँ :

You might also 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 here

If you appreciate what you read on the blog, you can support it by contributing towards my travels. it will let me keep bringing you all the secrets, stories and landscapes of nature and life to you. If you live in India You can do it here. And If you are living outside India, please drop me a mail.

: ँ :

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 
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

The Pond of Saraswati and Meeting With the Brahma Kamal : Nara on a four day trek to Kalpeshwar Rudranath : V

Continuing from


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


and


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


: ँ :



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.

Image from Gandarbal, Kashmir


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.

Morning Sky minus the Golden Eagles
Waiting for the rain again, but the dream wasn’t ending
Making the fire, for one more chai
Some time for music before the day begins
One amongst so many- A land full of trees
Sumanto and Neel, observing the time
The first of the nectar falls


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.

Two deers watching a human family pass by
Entering other world’s
The higherlands



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.

From my phone, Snowcapped NandaDevi from Panar, Rudranath


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.

Neelabha praying to the mother, Saraswati Kund



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


: ँ :


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.

: ँ :

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.

: ँ :


Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


: ँ :


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.


: ँ :

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 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


: ँ :

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 
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter






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

: ँ :

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.


: ँ :


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.


: ँ :

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


: ँ :


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.


: ँ :

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


: ँ :

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 
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Turiya and Ramakrishna: The Science of Breathing


The first act of Life as soon as we come out of mother’s womb is, we inhale. Maharaj Ji asked me to sit straight and take one deep breath, in a voice that demanded attention. I held it for 10 seconds, as he continued, and the last act of life is, we exhale; that is it.

Leave the breath through your mouth.

We inhale and we start crying. When we exhale, we make others cry.

Between these two, a whole life is lived and one must take a deeper and a closer look at our lives. Because however our life is, the most important thing we unfortunately learn to ignore is, our breath.

Also Read: Food and the World on a New Yogi’s Mind

Maharaj Ji Paying homage to Narmadeshwar, a lingam he left in his younger years. Found again while walking through Central Indian Village


Maharaj Ji was making a Yantra with red vermillion, on an old bhojpatra paper as he casually started telling me a tale of essence about being. This was way back in 2014, around when we were travelling right towards the centre of India, to Ujjain. But had to take a detour and stopped at an ashram in the outskirts of Udaipur.

The breath plays a very important role in managing our mind and the body, as it is the only bridge, even vehicle that connects the two and propels the spirit. In the night, i remember he broke the silence for something very important that had come to his mind. I was looking outside at the villages and fields passing by through the train’s window. “Narayan you know that anyone who is not happy is sick. Don’t think the ones who are in hospital are sick, any who is not calm, not stable, remains irritated or angry is sick. Anyone who doesn’t really know how to handle their thoughts, storms of emotion is in some way or the other not right, isn’t it?” I Smiled, and I couldn’t agree more. As they say everything is connected. And that everything is connected with one’s breath. Hence the first thing one must be taught should be how to breathe!

Also read: Turiya and Ramakrishna: Who are you?

An old image of me during Pilgrimage Years with Maharaj Ji


He continued, there is some rhythm in the breath. And this rhythm is connected to the rhythm in the world, the rhythm in nature, and the rhythm in the body, of your thoughts and the rhythm of your emotions. The mind is very abstract, and actually one cannot really deal with the mind directly. But if one starts attending to the root cause of this problem or any problem that the mind is facing; breath has the power to eliminate it because our breath has more information about us than we can ever know. It’s the first to come with us and the last to leave. Its more than our family if we ever look at it that way. It is strange but its true.

When anyone with a negative vibe comes, it shows up in your breath. You will feel it automatically because his vibe will alter the way you feel, even if its just a little bit. And whatever the feeling other person has, you can feel it in your breath if you become that conscious.

Likewise, someone with a lot of anger comes in front of you, you will see that the rhythm of your breath will change, and it is nothing but fire element transpiring in your breath. And same with someone telling you a lie, you can recognise it, only if you have become one with your breath.


Also read: A Brief History of Ancient temples in India – ३

Maharaj Ji under the Sacred Banyan in Udaipur


Maharaj Ji had a way of doing things. He was a sage yet quiet unpredictable. One morning he had given me some work, but came back again and started speaking in such a way that i had to leave everything else and focus on what he spoke.

Our right nostril Narayan, is called Sun nostril or the Surya Naadi, Left nostril is called the Chandra or the moon Naadi. It is also known as cold or dark you may say. Different activities are allocated for these naadis.

You can check right now. He asked me and I am asking you, my co-travellers here; you. Which nostril is working as you read this? Do tell me because, if your left nostril is functioning right now, I can bet that either you are about to leave reading this article half-read, or it could be that you are sleepy or are finding it hard to grasp whatever I am talking about, and it could happen that you may need another read to absorb it fully. But if you are still here, reading this line, I would assume that your right nostril or the surya/solar naadi is functioning, you are grasping it all right. And you are rather curious to know more.

So it is with food. If you eat when your left is functioning then it is going to take a lot more time for you to digest, that is also one reason why yogis used to finish eating before sundown. It is also know to disturb one’s digestive tract. In earlier days, when the sun and moon were not taken for granted, Maharaj Ji said, showing his staff to me, Rishis used to change it at will. Ancient Rishis always carried with them a Yogdanda, a staff. Apart from shooing away unwanted creatures, that staff helped them changing the breath functioning according to their will.

Also read: A Brief History of Nine Planets in India- ४

Maharaj Ji about to leave, after the morning ritual


As with eating, same with elimination process. If you have gone to washroom when the left or the moon nostril is in charge, you will go again, within one to one and a half hours.

And if you sleep with your right nostril, that is taking your sight towards the left side, your sleep will be better and deeper. You will feel energised once you will get up. But if you sleep with your left nostril functioning, you will have a lighter sleep, you may wake up and want to go back to sleep again.

Narayan, you must know that, if you start closely monitoring how your breath flows throughout the day with sunrise to moonrise, with the cosmic events, you will be amazed that they are so co-related.

Just for a few days start observing in the morning the time you get up, which nostril is functioning as it is very much connected with the time as well as the positioning of the moon.

Also Read: The Curse of A Tale: And Why each mother should make her child first, a storyteller?

I asked Maharaj Ji out of curiosity, what if both nostrils start functioning together? He smiled, and said that if both nostrils are functioning then nothing works in the body, that is the time of transcendence. Either you will be deep in meditation or you may be sprinting. Either you will be sitting in a plane ready for the flight or you will be going to kill someone, it is here when both nostrils function. In Yogic terminology, it is known as sushumna and the kundalini is said to rise when both nostrils function.

There is also a great rather deeper science about when the soul is leaving the body, according to one’s karma it might choose either of the two, which decides the spirit’s path from there onwards but for that we will talk someday again.

Now sit, with your eyes close, lets meditate.

I, somewhere in the Himalayas meditating


: ँ :


Cover Image- from a sacred pond with floating lights in Kerala, India; sent by Manu di


: ँ :

Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste

Turiya and Ramakrishna are a compilation of conversation held between a Guru and Disciple. An ongoing Photobook Project journeying through the Indian Subcontinent through Images, symbols and conversations.


: ँ :

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.


: ँ :

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

: ँ :

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 
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter





A Park in the Forest: A short Walk in the Jungles of Almora


The last descent of the sun, unlike the day, feels leaving us the fastest. And how each day then once consumed, becomes thought of the night. Turning into complexly connected dreams in sleep. Each moment. Every missed yes, becomes only a memory once its gone and done with.

Deep in the valley of Almora, there is a temple hidden in the oasis of many layers of devdars called Chitai Mata Temple or the Golu Devta Temple. On a cold morning when i decided to walk through the jungle of celestial trees, i didn’t know that i will never reach there. Not because villagers told me it was far. Or because i got frightened as villagers tried to stop me for the tiger might find me alone. To tell you, this the story of every mountain. For each valley you will visit, you will find one fearless man telling you to fear. For a tiger or two, or certainly a bear might arrive. And as always. I left.

But as I left to not reach, i wandered as the jungle became dense, and even slept. Waking up to the flute i played for myself, taken up by many birds instead, pushing me to move, to walk but when i this time i started parading, appeared from no where, not even from behind my eyes, a world of wonder where there were only swings and swings every where. All around me. No one else. But a woman. An old woman with a bucket, slowly pouring water to the plants i did not see.

: ँ :

Sharing some images from that unfinished walk which i called ‘Simtola’.

The first ascent towards the Jungle
An old abandoned mud bungalow from the colonial times
High Chimneys of the olden times which are absent from newer structures
I was told about the couple who died during the Pandemic, lived here and leaving this estate all empty and on its own.
I asked the way, while they were themselves finding theirs
A small temple structure on the trail
Can clouds be the way to joy. I had a beautiful time exploring the sky this time. Observing closely and documenting their changing pattern most times looking upwards.
Found some women on the way, going to their village nearby
Beautiful city of Almora, Uttarakhand
Swings arrived like futuristic structures in the middle of a Jungle walk
They were spread throughout the mountain, as i am only sharing a few to not repeat looking us at similar looking swings
Felt hungry, and found a short cut to come down to the road to have some chai and halwa


: ँ :

Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


: ँ :

I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

Lessons as a Traveller from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


: ँ :

If you wish to contribute to my travels, or towards My School you can please do so here

If you have anything to share, or feel like saying a hello, please 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 
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

How Pandemic changed the Reality for Children? Corona Diaries from School


Its been over three weeks since our small school opened. Two years later; Seeing things coming close to a world more open, towards unafraid times again is nothing less than grace from nature.


A whole generation has changed the way it socializes and even less. We now have more close friends and acquaintances online than any generation ever had. Life, material living has changed for the world, yet we are trying to get back to what felt natural. But the world of kids that saw this Pandemic in their youngest, most vulnerable years has transformed the future that is coming for them.

Almost every kid I met recently was a lion at home but a goat amongst other goats. Pandemic took their freedom. And if not their bodies, their souls know the jail they were in. The fear that oozed from each human silently, projected on a world stage, afraid parents for their children, for themselves, for their family’s future together.

Nations and many a leaders were not ready for this and some could not cope up with this unseen, never heard, deadly, strange and vulnerable threat. It became the reason for the strongest of leaders to be voted out of power; one after other leading economies started defaulting, debts are rising, leading to conflicts and wars. It came as a test of grit and will for any country; many failed, some prevailed.

Also Read : The Sins of America

But during these times when kids were forcefully jailed as they learnt complex words like coronavirus, sanitising, vaccines- Education of other kind rose. Arose as if new coffins being offered for free; the internet. Children were slowly allowed to binge on phones. Images, creatures, the world moved as they sat eating at one place for hours, days, months, two years. Phones literally snatched their toys away.

A mother with her 5 year old child entered our school premises last week, and the moment they entered, the child almost wildly started making sounds in excitement. So much so that I and couple of teachers from other rooms came out to see if everything was fine.

There were many toys, 5 kinds of Tricycles and a small balloon ball court. He moved around joyously, testing each one after other making wild sounds in adventure. Mother left him and asked about the Admission procedure, when I started asking him about the child first.

He is 5+, said the mother.
I asked her if he has learnt anything at home as there is a short mandatory test. Can he write?
Mother hesitated, umm, No.

Can he read?
Well, he is trying to speak you know. Actually he used to speak but because you know he couldn’t find any one of his age for last 2-3 years, he is just shy.

Silence. I kept listening.

She continued, he used to speak you know, but he does not anymore!

I was intrigued! Taken by surprise for two reasons, first our school is in an underprivileged locality and it is almost impossible to have a parent who comes with a near fluent English. And secondly, I was kind of shocked to learn of somebody who could speak but slowly stopped speaking at all.

Also Read: This little school and how it all started?

How is it possible? I asked child’s name, and started calling him Pradeep. But Pradeep was in his own world. I do not think he was even hearing his name. He kept playing, making long, arduous sounds. I tried to come in front of him, got a ball, threw it softly at him to get his attention but his eyes never rested on mine neither it followed the ball.

Mother spoke, it all happened during the Pandemic, and yes, I feel there is some carelessness on our part. Before Covid, he used to respond and play with us, tried to talk to other kids like any kid does, but to engage him as we both worked from home, we gave him a phone. And he used it over too much. He watched anything and everything from day to night and we couldn’t really stop him. First it took away his attention span. He then slowly started to not look at us anymore and soon stopped talking.

Other two teachers were still there, standing perfectly on either side of BR Ambedkar’s poster under a clock, their mouth open out of shock may be; they both were mum’s themselves.

Pradeep! Pradeep! Come here Beta!

She continued, we took her to the doctor first and then to a Psychiatrist. He said, everything is fine with him, there is no problem whatsoever. He just needs sometime. Well, mam but it doesn’t look like he is even listening, i said. No, no, He is fine, mother said again, and even the doctor said he will start speaking as soon as he will find some company. Its just that over use of phone has pushed him to create his own world. I heard about your school from someone and that you have good arts classes for children and I thought it would be great if he can join.

I kept looking at the kid. Somewhere, I was aghast. It touched me deeply seeing a mother, her hope towards her child. But Pradeep showed no sign of attention or even affection towards other kids who were playing around. During this whole visit he did not look at anyone, not even at the person who must have taken his name a couple of dozen times. It was saddening and somewhere I still wanted to give it a try. But our past experience told me not to. We don’t have right kind of resources for a kid like Pradeep. Because for him we will need a lot more than merely teachers.

She kept quiet this time, all along looking at me, and finally asked, what can I do? My mind ran to solutions i wouldn’t have known, but I felt and said, to start with, please get him a little pet.  

Pradeep with his Mother

: ँ :

Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


: ँ :

I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

What have i learnt in a decade of travels from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


: ँ :

If you wish to contribute to my travels, or towards My School you can please do so here

And when you have something to share, or feel like saying a hello, please 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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Brahma Calls To Pushkar: Travelling with Parents to Man Mahal and other stories: An Ode To Photographic February

Something unlikely happened in February. I wrote a letter for the first time, to send it far away; away across the seven seas wishing someone love, birthday wishes and health. And subtly felt that I should start doing it more often. Through writing at least, making unknown known, to the people who are close but far, sending Postcards to you. As it would be great to support our age old Letter/Postal services to keep working in this digital world. 

As it was also the birth month of my Mother. I kept planning that my parent’s travel, somewhere they had never been to. More so when they are more like Pilgrims than tourists, so wherever they can find a calling connection with the local lord, a deity of a city, a region; they go there happily. And that high of happiness had eluded them for the longest time. Much before the Virus locked our gates.

The orders had come to open the schools. Ma and I had already started planning the opening of our school. We had a lot to do. Cleaning first, giving away the old and getting whatever is needed for the coming session. Getting the right books back for the school and other things. Start calling parents, getting some toys. But before we could get into all of this, I wanted to gift them a short family time; where they can walk on a mountain yet not feel very cold in February. Somewhere around a lake or a river and a temple to sit for hours quietly. May be even looking up to the night sky telling me of all the constellations they see; old family game- finding Shukra i.e Venus, the couple or the married stars- Arundhati and Vashistha i.e Alcor and Mizar, which they remember from the day of their wedding in the 80s or counting the most noticeable ones Satprishis- The great bear; as they always did in my growing up years but slowly as pollution rose, it became impossible to see anything from Delhi, playing games in and outside all went away. But I really couldn’t tell myself if there was such a place nearby. And they help either but only say anywhere where I, their son wishes, to take them.
 
In the night while I was finishing my work, and wondering where to, the sign arrived. Papa was showing us some old images of his and smiled stopped at one where he was taking a dip with Vachaspati Uncle- A Sanskrit teacher who was also the head of their institution then, now no more. An Image of my father in 1985, on a school trip to the only Brahma Pond in Pushkar.




The Calling of the Blue Lotus: And the Legend

Finally the morning arrived and we left for, out of all the places to Pushkar. I wouldn’t have known that for whose flower; the Lotus, I had walked for days to find in the remotest part of Himalayas through highest passes filled with mist and rhododendron forest in Uttarakhand, would call even my parents to the place of him; Brahma himself within six months.

Pushkar, in Sanskrit means the Blue Lotus. As you already know, India is older than the time itself, hence getting into the vibe of most pilgrim place takes your body in one direction, but your soul unto itself. Pushkar is often called the Tirtha-raj, meaning the king of Pilgrim sites. Placed in such a way that the Aravalli Mountains surround it from three sides, hence filling the Brahma Kund, the pond throughout the year.

Aravallis, The grand old range, also considered as the oldest fold mountain system in the world, having its origin in Proterozoic era. Even before many seas had become, Aravallis were already there. They are older even than the Himalayas and at whose end or rather the start, flows the daughter of the sun himself, river Yamuna, where my beloved Delhi sits today. Almost 400 kilometers by road, away. while looking at the lake, i write these lines.

Like Brahma, who has always been depicted as the oldest one amongst the three Prime deities in Hinduism, with a white flowing beard; Pushkar thus suitably feels old, laid back. Slow and all the time, just forever dawning.

According to the stories that Hindu texts and people recall, Lord Brahma, believed to be the creator of the Universe dropped a lotus to the ground leading to the immediate creation of a lake. He then decided to name the place after the flower, and thus the name, Pushkar as he found this to be an ideal place for his Mahayagna- the great fire ritual. But soon he found out about a demon, Vajranabha who was killing people of this town. Brahma killed the demon by chanting a mantra on a lotus flower which then struck the demon and killed him. When Vajranabha died, petals of lotus fell on three places. One of them was Pushkar, where the petal is believed to have given birth to a lake.

Also Read: One night when I slept at the Indo-Pakistan Border

Further to protect Pushkar from demons, a yagna-fire ceremony was performed by Brahma on Kartik Poornima i.e Full moon of Kartik in November. But for performing the Yagna, Brahma’s consort, Savitri, was required. However, she was not present there and Brahma married a girl called Gayatri from Gurjar community to complete his yagna. Enraged by the news of Brahma’s wedding, Savitri cursed that people would worship Brahma only in Pushkar. The Pushkar temple still has a Gurjar priests known as Bhopas. It is said to be the only temple where he is worshipped in the world. Even though i recently heard of some temples where he is also worshipped elsewhere.

Parents visiting Brahma Temple

And since then it is believed that Pilgrims come to celebrate it on full moon of Kartik; when the popular Camel fair takes place.

Brahma’s Pond at night
Way to Brahma’s Pond


The Blue Lotus and I



I have known Pushkar for too long now. And I have a history with this place. Even before I met my mentor, a Director whom I assisted for a very short period in Bombay, while I wandered the lanes of Mumbai documenting its social and cultural life. I had already been to Pushkar on an assignment for an Indian Political Magazine.

But while assisting Mr. Swaroop in Mumbai and a few times in Delhi, I remember him remembering Ajmer and Pushkar many a times during our conversation. He came from Pushkar. And had already made two fantastic films, one amongst which remains a cult in itself, ‘Om Dar ba Dar’, so much so that in 1988- it is said that people left Cinema halls citing they couldn’t understand the story; as much that the film was taken away from Cinemas after a week due to no one turning up.

Let me share a song sequence from the film here for you to get to know his world of Pushkar when he was young. It was shot in Ajmer in early 80s.


And as it happened, more than two decades later ‘Om Dar ba Dar’ was re-released by some Cinema enthusiasts in 2013. Today, it enjoys a cult following in the art film world.


11 Years Later


It felt mixed entering Pushkar again today, old and new together with my creators. But the sweetest surprise came when I found myself in the same hotel, RTDC Hotel Sarovar, a heritage hotel where I had stayed in a minaret overlooking the Pushkar Lake eleven years ago for only INR 200/- while documenting the fair.

my room at Hotel Sarovar from the Outside


Ma loved it and probably enjoyed it to the fullest. Parents slowly started loving the fact that there was not a single occupant other than us. There were over 100 rooms and old world alleys built like a Maze to walk around or reach to the top; also because i knew it from the olden times, I could take them everywhere. Kitchen smelt of Dal Chawal, Churma.

Hotel Sarovar Dining room. Pushkar

I could feel her smile, her eyes gleaming. She got up the earliest next morning, much before any trace of sun. Walking back and forth in the long corridors, when asked why not rest, she said I do not want to waste even a single minute here. Peacocks were up too. Many. We all decided to walk to the Sarovar for tea. The brahma Sarovar Lake.

Eleven years ago, It was also the same place when i had left this beautiful hotel room to follow a group of camel owner’s long, arduous journey by road to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Around a thousand miles South west on the tip of Arabian Sea. Though i started well but lost my way on the second night while I had stopped in a village to rest but slept instead. When i woke up, everybody had left. I had no one to ask for water, or food. Leave that, to even speak with a soul. When out of nowhere like magic was created for me, appeared a full blown wedding in the middle of the night.


: ँ :

When was the last time I travelled with my parents, i do not remember. But it felt they needed it. My Ma required it, and all the more my father, who had given himself and us a scare for life couple of months ago.”

It was only much later while talking with the guard outside, waiting for my parents to arrive, he told me about Maharaja Man Singh-I, and the original name of this hotel Sarovar being ‘Man Mahal’ on his name. Built between 1590-1614 A.D. And how it was built as a royal guest house for the Maharaja on his trips to the sacred town of Pushkar for many generations. I was surprised i had no idea of its history or importance even when i might have slept in the same room where he might have been with his queen, playing or even imagining his newer quests.

I would suggest anyone going to Pushkar to stay there, even though there are other beautiful options along the lake.


: ँ :

When the Camels and Cattle come calling: Pushkar Cattle Fair


Pushkar brought smile to me again. And as much living, walking here is other-worldly, it also has its own spirits of evil as it was also the town of Vajranabha- who wandered looking to disrupt; travelling in India for so long, i must tell my Road to Nara family here that be alert at all times when visiting a pilgrimage site in India. These are old old places who have seen all kinds of worship, ancestral rituals, people and spirits in form of birds and creatures. And because wherever there is god worship, which people come for; most also meet evil too. The forces of disruption, anger and greed.

Hence visit it complete. By going to the abode of Savitri, wife of Brahma – a beautiful temple, twenty minute hike away over looking the Pushkar town.


Until next time, whenever Brahma calls again.

: ँ :

Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


: ँ :

I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

What have i learnt in a decade of travels from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


: ँ :

If you wish to contribute to my travels, or towards My School you can please do so here

And when you have something to share, or feel like saying a hello, please 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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