ART PEACE

tapping the creative 'right' side of my brain

Archive for the month “September, 2018”

Ambubasi Mela – Kamakhya

“Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey

Kamakya Devi temple that we went to has a lot of legends and stories to tell.

Sati, the consort of Shiva was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati a descendant of Bramha… Sati had married Shiva against the wishes of her father. The vain Daksha performed a great yagna(with the sole aim of insulting Shiva), to which he invited all the gods and goddesses except his son-in-law Shiva. Against Shiva’s wishes, Sati attended this sacrifice and was insulted by her father. Unable to bear this insult, Sati sacrificed herself.

Enraged at the insult and the injury, Shiva through Veerabhadra, destroyed Daksha’s sacrifice, cut off Daksha’s head and later replaced it with that of a goat, as he restored him to life. Still crazed with grief, he picked up the remains of Sati’s body and did Tandav (dance of destruction) throughout the Universe. The other gods intervened to stop this, Vishnu used his Sudarshana Chakra  to cut through the corpse of Sati whose various parts of the body fell at several spots all through the Indian subcontinent. These sites are known as Shakti Peethas today.

Kamakhya Devi’s shrine hosts the vulva that fell here following the destruction of Daksha’s sacrifice.

Ambubachi mela or Ambubasi festival is an annual fair celebrated for four days in Kamakhya temple, Guwahati, Assam during the Assamese month of Aahar (mid-June). It is believed that the presiding deity of the temple Devi Kamakhya (a form of Shakti) goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this period. The temple is closed for three days during this period and the doors of the temple open on the fourth day when devotees throng in a long queue to get a glimpse of the goddess..
The deity is believed to have been there since pre-historic times. There is no man-made statue of the goddess but a stone of shape similar to vulva.

Kamarup is a very important Shakti Peeth and this place is one of the primary temples of worship for the Tantrics. Pilgrims, devotees and Tantrics throng the temple during this 4 day festival.

Om Namah Shivay!!!

Restoration

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks” – John Muir

Trips like these restore my hope for humanity. There are abundant trees to produce oxygen and abundant rains to fight water scarcity. So no worries !!!! Chasing the monsoons we decided to go to the Wettest place on earth, that is Cherrapunjee or locally known as Sohra. This is one place with only one season- monsoon ranging from high-medium to low. The surroundings are mostly dotted with towering Khasi hills and valleys beyond your horizon.

Guwahati Airport

The 3 hr long flight dropped us in Guwahati from where we took a shared taxi Rs 500/per person to Shillong. The roads start winding from here itself and our driver wasn’t going any slow. I kept hearing tires screeching and kept praying the whole time. Whoever said Bangalore has the worst traffic should visit Shillong. It took us 35 mins to make a U turn.

Shillong traffic

Looks like they are just getting started on women empowerment…

We reached Cherrapunjee by hiring another taxi from Shillong. And the winding roads continue…

As soon as we meandered towards Sohra the mist started following us, we were at the mercy of the mist now, we see what it feels like revealing.

I was out of words witnessing the lush greenery and the misty landscape.

And then it started raining….

The day ends early here, so we had lunch by 7pm and called it a day. It was raining the whole night.

I guess they don’t even know what pollution means or even heard of it…

Time for being the tourist and do some sight seeing, there is almost no public transport so you have to either walk or hire a taxi. I would have preferred walking but it was pouring like hell so we hired a cab and I am glad we did. Why? The time to do sightseeing in Cherapunjee is when it is raining, as soon as it stops raining the mist take over and blocks your views and plus we could throw some extra clothes in the bags which were helpful later.

The Nohsngithiang Falls(can’t pronounce) or popularly called the Seven Sister falls – our first stop

The Seven Sister Falls

Before the misty curtains drop on it we managed to enjoy the beauty of these falls. It is 315m\1033ft. Some say it gets its name because of the seven streams of falls but our driver Kynpham – again a name I can’t pronounce… well said it gets its name because of the seven steps in which they fall.

Next stop – Mawsmai Caves

Nature at its best

It’s all dark in here and I loved the fact hey kept the sanctity of it by not lighting up the place.

There are stalagmites and stalactites, its dark, and wet and slippery and you will be drenched as water falls from everywhere. Its a 15-20 mins long dark cave, the experience was nerve racking in a fun way. And finally some light….

Where do you think these steps lead to? Maybe to a yogi’s ashram or hideout of somebody like Bigfoot. There were many of these in the woods….

Next stop : Nohkalikai Falls

This beautiful falls has a gory story to tell.

Story:

Ka Likai was a Khasi tribe woman and wife of a porter. The porter died at work one day and left Ka Likai to fend for herself and her daughter. With her daughter being an infant and no source of income to fend for herself, Ka Likai herself became a porter and remarried. Ka Likai used to spend most of the time with her daughter after work which made the husband jealous of the daughter to an extent that he started hating her.

One day when Ka Likai was at work the husband overcome by sheer jealousy kills the child and serves her as food to Ka Likai on return. Ka Likai is not surprised to see the child at home thinking she must be with some neighbor as usual and heartily devours the food.

Later when Ka Likai realized what she had unknowingly done, she went into a fit of rage and sadness. Ka Likai ran to the cliff  of the waterfall and jumped to her death, thus the name, Nohkalikai – “Noh” meaning Jump, Jump of Ka Likai. 

If you looked closely at the falls… every drop seemed like a wailing white ghost was jumping from the top. Maybe it was the effect of the spine-chilling story I just read but there was such sadness in this beauty.

Time to move on …. now that the rains had stopped we have to rely on our luck. Mist will now claim the region and if you are lucky it will reveal the beauty of the hills.

Next stop: Arwah Lumshynna Cave

Ok now this was an insane one. Arwah Cave is now the world’s longest sandstone cave at 24,583m with fossils from upto 30 million years ago. Only a small part of it has been opened to tourists though. A small rocky road take you to the caves and then you have to walk 1km or less to reach the cave.

On our way we saw two sign boards; 1) Pleasant Path and 2) Rugged Trail. We took the rugged path 🙂 … and after climbing the dense forest hill for 10 mins we realized there is no path… 🙂 but we kept going on.

The thick foliage was turning out from being creepy to dangerous. What if a snake bites me or if a jaguar or fox comes out from the bushes, with all these thought we kept going on…..

Some beautiful flora…. I am glad I didn’t see any fauna else you wouldn’t have no post to read.

Oh some steps going down … finally I am reaching my destination….

Still no destination …. I discovered a waterfall 🙂 and this was the dead end. We were in no mood to retrace and go back so we decided to follow the waterfall and see where it takes us…..another crazy decision….

It did lead us to civilization but it wasn’t a fun ride down …. 🙂

Somehow we reached the cave entrance with some people laughing at us and with some looking at us with suspicion ….. you know the way we tumbled down to the pleasant path.

Arwah is a long, peaceful and dark cave. I have used some Photoshop techniques to lighten the image.

No more rugged trail going back….. this is the view we missed by not taking the pleasant path.

Next Stop: Bri Ki Synrang Park popularly known as Mawdohnud (feel free to pronounce them as you like, for me it was a park filled with small waterfalls)

Known as Ka Bri Ki in the Laitmawsiang village, this area is a combination of Caves ,Waterfalls and rock/stone formations. You reach the park going through the village which is quite interesting

The village has a huge playing ground and sports center but the kids are happy playing their marble game ….

From inside the Asdad Falls

Some more waterfalls…. I don’t remember those tongue twister names anymore… but one thing I know, there is enough water for everyone one of us 🙂

The day ends very early here as the clouds take their position and its time for rains again.

Most of the businesses here are run by women as tourism and some government jobs are the only source of employment for the locals here so most of the men migrate to cities for a livelihood. You find strong, charming and ever smiling Khasi women in all the establishment.

A vegetarian paradise – Orange Roots and below is the final waterfall on our way back to Shillong ..

This is called the Ka Kshaid Lai Pateng Khohsiew (or “Three Steps Waterfalls”) popularly known as Elephanta falls– the name given by some British who obviously couldn’t pronounce it.

One of the cleanest places I have see with easygoing and smiling Khasi people. I wish I had some more time here or I wish I was born here where everything moves at a snails pace. I wish I stayed naive as the kids in the below snap, this place felt like the home I always wanted to have…..

Khublei (farewell) Sohra!!!

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