ART PEACE

tapping the creative 'right' side of my brain

Archive for the tag “caves”

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!!!

Heritage

“The Universe is made of stories not of atoms” – Muriel Rukeyser

Storytelling – India’s oral heritage, I remember spending evenings with my grandmother listening to the many stories and I always wondered how she remembers so many of them. Not only my grandmother but also my aunts and other elder people in the family, if you sit with them they always have a story to tell or a riddle for you to solve. I used to love those times and still cherish them.

This story board in Ujjain reminded me of those days. This is the story of King Bhatruhari and Vikramaditya as told by Late Guru Peer of Nath Sampradaya who used to live in Bharthari Caves, Ujjain. By looking at it I can tell you he tried his best to translate it from Sanskrit, the reason why the grammar is displaced but I couldn’t help appreciate his efforts to tell the story in a foreign language so that today’s generation gets reminded of their heritage.

For those who find it tough to read it and understand, below is the story in simple english;

First story (The one in BLACK ink)

Bhartruhari was so much immersed in romance and sex, that he wrote 100 stanzas on ‘the art of romance and sex‘, now famously called ‘Shrungara Shataka‘. All the stanzas are on sensuality and sexual pleasure.

King Bhartruhari was obsessed with his youngest wife Pingala, she was beautiful and charming. Once king’s brother complained to the king about the affair of queen with king’s charioteer and advised him to banish her for the sake of the kingdom. King was too obsessed with her to heed to his brother, in fact when the queen heard of this from her sources, she manipulated the king and banished his brother from the kingdom

One day a yogi came to his court and presented the king with an apple, which he said would bless one with ‘youth and longevity‘ on eating (stories say that the ascetic got the apple as a boon from the gods and that the apple was from the Kalpavruksha- ‘wish fulfilling tree’).

The king wanted queen Pingala to have the apple, so that she would always look young for him.

Queen Pingala gave the apple to the charioteer. She wanted him to be young and strong.

The charioteer was in love with a prostitute, he gave her the apple to eat.

The prostitute thought ‘it would be better if someone deserving ate this‘, she always liked the king, he was noble and pious, his long living also meant the peace and stability of her kingdom, so she took the apple to the king and give it to him.

King Bhartuhari was surprised to see the apple with her, and enquired how she got it. She told him how she got it from the charioteer, king sent men to bring the charioteer, he told the king that he got it from the queen, and confessed of his affair with the queen.

Bhartruhari realized the fleeting nature of the pleasure from worldly objects, he wrote a poem about the incident which changed him in his Niti Shataka. (100 stanzas on Moral conduct)

(She) whom on I contemplate, is not passionate for me, she loves another;
that whom she loves, loves another;
One whom he loves, loves another.
Refuse (disdain to) that woman, that man, Cupid, me
.”

Deep Vairagya (dispassion) arose in him, he gave up the desire for his wife, realizing his mistake he brought his brother back and crowned him, renouncing the world he lived rest of his life as an ascetic. Bhartruhari wrote Niti-Shataka and Vairagya Shataka during his later years.

Source: king-bhartruhari-who-became-saint-bhartuhari

Second story (The one in RED ink)

Ujjain is a city shrouded in myth and legend and most of these center around the legendary king who ruled here –Vikramaditya.
Very few know, however, that Ujjain has a temple on its outskirts that was one the center of daily human sacrifice!
This is the famous temple of Bhukhi Mata. It is a legend that is imperative for all to know because it tells the reason that led to Vikranaditya’s long and prosperous reign as the king of Ujjain.
Centuries ago, the goddesses whose temples citizens of Ujjain worshiped demanded that a youth be sacrificed to them daily. The citizens complied devotedly while heartbroken mothers wailed in suffering as their sons were taken away day after day.
Finally, one brave mother approached the king and demanded that he save her son. The wise king thought long and hard. He then told the mother that he would appeal to the goddesses and if they did not agree he would sacrifice himself that day. Before night set in, the king arranged a huge feast. The flavors of a million different delicious dishes scented the air so much so that the appetites of the goddesses were appeased.
They came to enjoy the food while the king hid himself inside a casket.

On top of this casket he had placed the replica of a man made of delicious sweetmeats. As the devis enjoyed the hearty meal and were about to leave, one of them happened to glance at the special replica. She stayed back while the others left and tasted it.

She praised the tasty food and wondered aloud as to who could have kept the tasty human replica there. At that moment, Vikramaditya showed himself. Taken aback, the goddess asked him to express a wish. He said that she should never cross to this side of the river .  Pleased by his courage, she agreed. The goddess was Bhukhi Mata and the king made a temple in her honour on the other side of the river. Since then, she never came to trouble the people of Ujjain and no more young men needed to be sacrificed!

Source: Bhukthi Mata story

DP Challenge: Heritage

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