Welcome back to the Himalaya!
In the previous post, we trekked past Mana village and visited Ganesha Gufa, Vyasa Gufa, Bheempul and Saraswati river. We walked the path of the Pandava brothers, and Draupadi. Continuing in the direction of the Pandava trail would have taken us on the route of their Mahaprasthaana, their final journey. And we would have reached the most beautiful lake, Satopant Tal. From where is born the great river Alakananda. And beyond Satopant, we would have seen mighty mountains… Among them, the Swargarohini, where Yudhisttira went, along with a dog….
Coming back to Badrinath…
17th August evening saw us having Darshan again at the temple. There I met this Australian lady, who had happened to meet me two days ago elsewhere in Badrinath. She had spotted me carrying a cloth bag with the name Ramanashramam written on it. And she had exclaimed, “Arunachala! Ramanashramam!” and we had broken Badrinath ice. Now, this evening, we met again at the temple. And we had a picture taken. She insisted that we sing “Arunachala Siva” together while the picture was taken. So here we are singing, ‘Arunachala Siva, Arunachala Siva, Arunachala Siva, Arunachala…”
18th August, 2011.
Morning 5 am, sees us all in the temple again. We attend the morning Abhisheka of Lord Badri Vishaal. Bhakti is palpable. What a darshan! Lord Badri Vishaal… Vishnu, sitting in Yoga Samaadhi… Timeless India!
Word has come that the blocked roads are opening up….
Around 10 am or so, we get into our cabs, and start off from Badrinath…
On the way, we pass the Kanchanganga brooke that had caused all the havoc a few days ago.
The waterfall is wider than it looks. Notice a man standing on the right… This super-stream had washed away the road… Some stones have been laid, and we gingerly ride across….
We stop at Hanumanchatti and pray to Hanuman for our safe journey down…
We reach Joshimutt and decide to halt. No other choice. Road ahead is blocked. Landslide. A group we had met in Badrinath, had left the previous day. They are stuck here too. We book into the same hotel as them… After lunch… Our drivers are getting fidgety. They want to leave. So we do….
And some miles ahead, we find this picture.
Notice the line of cars… All waiting… For the landslide to be cleared…
We drive on to go join the queue.
On the way we negotiate roads such as the one below.
And we join the queue.
Down below, the Alakananda thunders on….
If you peer at the picture, you will notice a ropeway with a trolley, above the river… Gives a perspective of the size of the river…
We have to wait for a few hours… We can go neither forward, nor back… For we see hills slide down, behind us… In fact, my cab tries to go back to Joshimutt and we get caught in a mudslide. Karma. And with great difficulty, with the help of a another cab driver, we somehow get the car out of the slime. And in the process, we get all soiled up, our shoes coated with layers of slime….
Back to the roadblock… I spot a group of yatrees. An elderly Sarddaarji, in traditional dress, is photographing the landslide, using his iPad. Jai Ho Steve!
Below, a three second video clip of the above scene…
Late afternoon, the road is cleared…. And we go across….
Somewhere along the way, evening time, we see this beautiful scene….
And around 9 pm or so, we reach Karnaprayag…. What a day… We check into a hotel… Nice rooms, with a view of the river… Hotel, picture below… Hot dinner and we sign off for the night.
We leave Karnaprayag before sunrise.
The river looks heavenly….
Somewhere along the way, we go past this interesting looking eatery, that is named as ‘Two Eyes Restaurant’. You can see why.
We stop at another eatery for some Parantha breakfast. We can see the roads ahead, and there is a huge landslide ….
We join the queue of waiting vehicles….
We have to wait for hours…. Well past lunch time before it is cleared….
We cross Rudraprayag….
Here are a couple of pictures of Rudraprayag confluence, taken by a friend of mine, a few days ago…
Rudraprayag is where Mandakini river merges with Alakananda…
Here is a long shot…
And below is a closer look at the confluence. The blue river is Alakananda… If you focus on the confluence, you will see a saffron clad Sanyasi, hands aloft, praying… Timeless India… Click on the picture and see…
So there we are at the fourth of the five prayags..
The five Prayags are:
Vishnu Prayag: Near Mana. Where Saraswati merges with Alakananda.
Nanda Prayag: Where Nandakini merges with Alakananda
Karna Prayag: Where Pindar merges with Alakananda
Rudraprayag: Where Mandakini merges with Alakananda
Devaprayag (Deoprayag): Where Alakananda and Bhageerathi merge, and become Ganga…
Late afternoon, we are going alongside the Alakananda, driving towards Deoprayag… The clouds have lifted… But light is playing hide and seek… Mountain magic..
We feast our eyes…. Here’s a view…
Around 5 pm or so, we arrive at Deoprayag… The most holy confluence of Alakananda and Bhageerathi.
The river coming from left is Bhageerathi. The one coming up-down and joining Bhageerati is Alakananda.
At the confluence, from Bhageerati, a long flight of steps leads up to a temple. You can see the temple tower above. That is the Raghunath temple. Temple of Lord Rama. My father has been there many times. Under the directions of Kanchi Paramacharya, he had been involved in doing service to the Lord here. While I would have loved to stop and have darshan, I have to let that pass this time, and make do with Gopura Darshan… Here’s a closer picture of the temple.. The Gopura (shikhara) is shaped like a lotus bud… I am told that, by tradition, Telugu speaking priests offer Pooja in this temple… Its been so for hundreds of years… The wonder that is India… One India….
After Deoprayag, we have to halt once more… A massive landslide….
Late evening the road is cleared… And we motor down…. Go past Shivapuri… I remember that my brother’s and nephew’s ashes were immersed here… In the Ganga…
As we go past a turn to Vasishta Guha… I need to come here sometime…
And around 8:30 pm or so, we reach Rishikesh…
Its taken us almost forty hours from Badrinath… What should have taken maybe seven or eight hours…
After dinner, we bid goodbye to our cabs. They have been with us all the way from Kathgodam till here… And the Innova is still having the leak in the fuel tank. Temporarily sealed by soap and such.. Still holding…
We hire a tempo traveller, and set of for New Delhi….
Its been a fascinating journey….
As we come to the end of this series of posts on Himalayatra. I leave you with a picture and a poem.
The picture first…
Of Badrinath at night… The temple, lit up…
And the poem, now…
And the context is this…. All through the Himalayatra, there has been the mighty presence of holy rivers…. And coming down from Badrinath, along with Alakananda, and finally going down with Ganga… The mind is at such peace… One feels wholly cleansed… As I type this, I remember a poem that I wrote when I was in school, that started with the line : “India, my motherland, the land of might rivers…”
But that’s not the poem I was referring to.
It’s a Sanksrit shloka, that I came across in a book about the most holy sage, Udiya Baba…
नराकारं भजन्त्येके निराकारं तथापरे |
Some people worship God as having form, and others as formless. Whereas we, who are roasted by the heat of worldliness… We worship God who is in the form of water… We worship Ganga…
Hail the Himalaya!
Om Nama Sivaaya! Om Namo Naaraayanaaya!
Thank you my dear sister Meena. You were like a river in our life. And you went and merged into a greater river. That of God….Where your brother and mine, Nat, merged. Where your nephew and mine, Ishoo merged… Where your father and mine, merged…
Whenever we see any river, we know its you. All of you. The life force, that is India.