Saturday, April 13, 2013

In The Company Of A Sadhu And Beauty Of Rudradhari, Kausani

Note: Needless to say dates were wrong in all photos. It was in the month of May, 2011

Kausani is dubbed as Switzerland of India, and I think it is purely an Indian tourism rhetoric. Here I’m not demeaning the hilly town of Kumaon, nor do I amplify the beauty of Western European Alps. Both have distinctive landscapes, different tastes and absolutely different aura. 

The healing environs of Kausani inspired Mahatma Gandhi who spirited away in this Kumaon hills after a rigor of imprisonment. When I first saw the beautiful and unobstructed views of Himalayas, I could only compared with Chandrashilla peaks where I first experienced the transformative beauty of Himalayas.  The meandering Gompti River and verdant Katyuri Valley coupled with salubrious weather create essentially a transformative process in the mind.

camping in kausani, rudradhari
First camping experience
I started my journey from Delhi to hills in search of serenity, and to break my monotonous life of existence. It was my first camping trip so pretty much excited about it. At that time I didn’t have my own tent, so I rented an Alpine tent (quite heavy and cumbersome) and boarded bus in the night. I was heading towards Bedni Bugyal and had no idea about Kausani or Rudradhari. I will write down later on about a failed trip to Bedni Bugyal.

I spent 2 days in Lohajang and again started my journey in the early morning to Kausani. Kausani is a less accessible peacefull hilly town of Kumaon, offering peace and amusement. I didn’t even know what was Rudradhari Temple nor had any idea of the whole place. But destiny guided me to this less known ashram in the middle of dense forest where I spent two nights in the company of a sadhu. 

A taxi left near the mouth of forest and showed me the road. I found a very good place near a water stream. The gushing water tempted me to wash my filth from my body. I was quite tired and wanted a desperate dip. The whole area was surrounded by big trees, and I didn’t find uncomfortable to be naked and dipped in that ice-cold water.
kausani river, gomti
Before dipping in ice cold water
When I was preparing my evening meal (noodles), I saw a sadhu was entering into the forest. He was quite surprised to see me there, and asked me some routine questions. I liked his face, ever smiling, bony but shiny eyes. For the record, I haven’t seen a single sadhu till date with blunt features and dull eyes. He suggested me to lit fire behind a big rock to avoid forest fire. He also dissuaded me to stay in the night at the place. The place was near water stream, so possibly animals would come to drink at night. He asked me to pitch my tent in the fields near the village, but I liked the place so it was out of question to move somewhere else. He then asked me to come with him up in the hills where he used to live. That was a nice idea!

His openness and ever smiling face sowed a trust in my heart. I was not habituated in camping solitude and therefore got a bit flexible with my romantic folly of living in wilderness. When we reached the Rudradhari Ashram, it was already darkened, but solar lights on the top of ashram brightened the place. I still wanted to stay aloof, so the ‘ever-smiling babaji’ picked a spot, a little distant from the temple area. He also showed me a bunch of woods and a shaded place where I could cook. 

kausani jungle
Quite dense forest
 I still amuse myself thinking about my early trips. Seriously I mustered lots of courage those days. How wonderful were those days when I didn’t much fester on my daily living, as I was too lost in my thoughts and solitude. I carried a hell lot of things with me. Lantern, rice, potatoes, chocolate can, bread, spoon, salt, small saucepan, lots of books, sweater, jacket, gloves, kerosene and so many unnecessary things. 

In the night I lit the lamp and tried to read a book. But the atmosphere was so gripping that I couldn’t concentrate on my reading. I was wondering how could be this man lived here from last 8 years. Coldness of hills was increasing with night – sound of rustling leaves, some droning murmuring of a night bird, and some invisible eyes through the dark miasma of forest were exciting, and to be frank, a bit scaring too. 

camping in jungle kausani

Next morning I went to the ashram and had a long chat with babaji. He was living there for last 8 years, even before when there was no ashram. He spent his days in caves and told me how he encountered a bear family and other animals. He built his ashram with the help of villagers and also built a rudimentary school. Once in a week he walked 10-12 km to reach the village for weekly food (only fruits) and took care of school.

After seeing some books, especially a voluminous Sanskrit text, I asked me about his early life. He told me he was a Sanskrit teacher in some university (I forget the name) and not married. He also expressed an inscrutably painful incidence of her mother's death after he left his home. He then vowed he would never return his home if her mother died because of his renunciation.

Kichdee (rice and pulses with some potatoes)
 The whole afternoon and evening I was sitting on a rock and reading. Some abstruse thoughts were keeping my mind lonely and took me away from my worldly realities. I was alone but not lonely at the hills where my parents and friends didn’t ever anticipate what I was experiencing. For them it was a madman’s dream to get lost in the wild, ignored my career and embraced a dream that was better suitable in novels. 

A villager who came for a darshan gave me two brinjals and helped me to light my fire. I cooked some rice, burnt two brinjals and had my dinner early. 

rudhradhari temple
Rudradhari temple, Babaji's ashram
 Err..I heard a thumping noise outside my tent and heavy breathing. It must be leopard, no fear, I just stayed in dark for a while. After 10-15 minutes I came out my tent and tried to see in the dark, no trace of any animal but I was sure there must be something outside.

Did I hear something last night? Asked babaji. He said last night some animal came, and then asked me to pack my belonging if I wished to catch my bus. I left my lamp, kerosene, some rice and potatoes outside the door of his ashram and silently bid adieu.
Gompti river in kausani
Dry meandering Gompti river

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  • Juliana Lynch says:
    April 17, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    splendid post! Pretty much inspiring to do solo journey. Thanks for sharing.

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