In everybody’s life there a time comes when his/her life is unbearable, calling desperately for certain answers, and it seems the whole spirit tries to thrust outside of this monotonous way of existence. In my life I had experience an incredible transformation within, which has forced me think that this life what we are living, the mindset of security and conformity, is the most treacherous aspect.
Anyways, my story of solo travel started not in Gangotri but Mcleodganj that I still to put it down here. However, I got an extraordinary experience in Himalayas and shades of a few sadhus that made my Gangotri experience one of the best travels in my life till now.
|Rishikesh - my favorite retreat!|
I never really prepare myself for any expedition beforehand. The experience is pretty idiosyncratic to me. For three or four days I experience an itchy foot, and with a sudden impulse, boom! I decide my mind to go out irrespective of my circumstances. In a same way, I decided to go to Rishikesh one day after my usual work in the office. Rishikesh is always a fine retreat for me because I love the atmosphere there. Well, that was my second trip to Rishikesh and I didn’t know where to stay cheap. So, I crashed in a filthy hotel with a good price. Only good thing – the hotel was adjacent to Rishikesh bus stand.
"Travel Tips – There are two bus stands in Rishikesh, ask locals for the bus stand from where buses ply to ‘pahar’(mountains). It is not necessary to stay near the bus stand because most of the hotels near bus stands are filthy and atmosphere is bleak. Stay near Laxman Jhula and catch an auto to reach bus stand before 5 am. Most of the buses travel to mountains start from 5 am."
Early morning breakfast and carried some snacks for the journey I decided to go to Uttarkashi. I was not going to chase Ganges or looking for sadhus randomly. In Rishikesh I was told by a sadhu that I could find a Mouni Baba (silent ascetic) in some cave in Gangotri. He was a well-to-do professor in some Indian university in his former life (before initiation to Sanayasin), and left everything and stayed in Gangotri from last 15-20 year. The love for Himalayas triggered by this story compelled me to go Gangotri.
Journey to Uttarkashi was not comfortable. I had to take a pause for more than two hours because of a landslide. However, the picturesque beauty of river Ganges and greenery all around did reimburse my time. I reached Uttarkashi in the afternoon, and decided to travel to Bhatwari village. When I reached Bhatwari, it was already dusk, and there were a few jeeps available for Gangotri. Somehow I managed to climb on a packed jeep and reached Gangotri after 2-3 hours.
Later on while returning I discovered the beauty of landscape, especially the road, carrying on from Harshil, entered the dense green gorge of Bhairon Ghati. Here I want to describe a bit about Harshil.
Why You Must Not Miss Harshil?
|Harshil - Untouched by tourism|
Harshil is the closest village in the pilgrimage town of Gangotri. It is near to Nanda Devi Sanctuary, and definitive training ground for your next trek. The landscape in a word I must say ‘Beautiful’. The river runs through the green forests, gushing streams, hot springs, enchanting forests, peaks and unfaithful glaciers, all elements create a mesmerizing aura.
Harshil is surprisingly untouched by tourism. Most of the people move towards Gangotri, which makes the place still virgin. I found a great bliss while returning from Gangotri, walking down the area along the river and into the neighboring forests.
Though I haven’t tried, but you can travel to Sattal from Harshil. Dharali Village is located 2 km from Harshil, from there you need to take 7 km trek to reach a tourist destination Sattal, a place where seven lakes grouped at the same place, a beautiful surrounding with excellent camping sites.
Back to Gangotri…
|Gangotri temple - Dedicated to river Bhagirathi|
I stayed the night in a grimy hotel room circumscribed by thundering Bhagirathi uproar. Next morning I discovered the ferocious Bhagirathi in her full flow. The waves were crested and fell up to 10-12 feet. The thundering noise, chilled weather and saffron clad ascetics everywhere created a fascinating atmosphere. Pilgrims come to visit Gangotri temple built by Gorkha general Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century, so did I.
|Enroute to Bhojbasa|
I searched for the Mouni Baba and found one. A different Mouni baba though, conversing with me in his own slate made by a rock. He was a Naga sanyasi who stopped uttering sound for his mouth from last 15 years. The ashram was quite furnished with music reverberated with good speakers. He presented me with a Brahma Kamal (lotus that blooms in Himalayas) and offered me tea. For the note, I never found the Mouni Baba I was looking for. Later on while returning from Gangotri, one young Sadhu said some professor baba was living there in a cave for a while. He never came out from the cave and always immersed in study.
|Sadhu Sundranand Ashram - yogi, trekker and mountaineer|
I missed the Gaumukh because the road was inaccessible after certain point due to heavy landslides. However, I truly relished the wilderness around, the solitude, scenic landscape, freezing breeze coming out from mountains, sweet sun rays and above all mighty Bhagirathi flowing endlessly in her thundering personality.
My Meditative Experience in Midst of Himalayas
As soon as human beings perceive even a slight glory of Self, all abracadabra falls off of themselves. This is my uniform experience when I sit and meditate. I strongly believe in Himalayas, I don’t just love it, I owe the mountains. Thousands of years ascetics and great Rishis meditated in the place, seeking the highest truth, the place where one can find the ultimate peace, and the solutions of the questions that are always in the mind of humans from the beginning of this creation.
If there is heat in one body, then those others that come near it must catch it. This is the law. I feel the heat of those great souls remains there for thousands of year, and when someone with a bend of mind tuned with these surroundings, feel the instant heat.
Great seers say – “I’m with you, and when I am gone, my spirit will work with you. This life comes and goes – wealth, fame, enjoyments are only of a few days. So, it is better, far better to cast off this body on pursuing the highest truth than to die like a worldly worm.”
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