ART PEACE

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Archive for the tag “pilgrim”

Pashupatinath-Nepal

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” – J K Rowling

We went to Nepal on 27th day of the Ashwin month, year 2075. OKAY… I didn’t time travel and visit Nepal in the future but that is what 13-October-2018 converts to, as per Nepali calendar.

So a Nepal trip during Dashain – as it is known in Nepal OR Dushera – as known in India. There is so much to share so I am going to split it into many blogs and hopefully that way I can share all I want to 🙂

A visit to the Pashupatinath Temple takes you to a different era. As you walk towards the temple the surrounding areas are bustling with shops selling items for puja and the many colorful traditional ornaments that married Nepali women wear.

Nepali women wearing Pote – glass bead necklace in red, green or yellow. Only married women wear it and it is believed to bring good luck for them and their family.

So, the existence of Pashupatinath temple dates back to 400 A.D and it was rebuilt in 17th century as the old one was destroyed by termites. The temples lies on the banks of the Bagmati river.

Interesting fact – the 2015 earthquake destroyed many things in Nepal, the temple still stands tall and unharmed. While devotees claim it’s because of the divine powers, some argue its because of the strong architectural base. Take your pick..

Anyways it is one of the oldest Hindu temples and there are many legends surrounding the origin of the temple.

Legend 1

One fine day when Shiva and Parvati were taking a stroll, they came near the banks of Bagmati river and were amazed by its beauty. Both took the form of deer and spend their time here. After a while the gods got worried and decided to bring Shiva back to Kailash to resume his duties. When Shiva refused to do so they had to use force and in the battle Shiva’s lost one of his antlers. Which became the first Lingam that Hindu’s worship here as Pashupatinath. Pashupatinath means Lord of Pashu’s or animals.

Legend 2

In continuation of the previous legend, the dropped antler of Shiva got lost\buried and was found again by a herdsman. The herdsman had a cow which used to visit this place and irrigate the place with its milk. By the time the cow reached home its udders were empty so the herdsman followed it one day and saw the whole event. On digging deeper he found the Shiva Lingam.

Legend 3 – As per Koti Rudra Samhita

The Pandavas defeated and killed their cousins — the Kauravas in the epic Kurukshetra war. To atone for the sins of committing fratricide (gotra hatya) and Brāhmanahatya (killing of Brahmins — the priest class) they went in search of God Shiva to seek his blessings. First, they went to the holy city of Varanasi (Kashi), believed to Shiva’s favourite city. But, Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was deeply incensed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and was, therefore, insensitive to Pandavas’ prayers. Therefore, he assumed the form of a bull (Nandi) and hid in the Garhwal region.

Not finding Shiva in Varanasi, the Pandavas went to Garhwal Himalayas. Bhima, the second of the five Pandava brothers, then standing astride two mountains started to look for Shiva. He saw a bull grazing near Guptakashi (“hidden Kashi” — the name derived from the hiding act of Shiva). After some searching Bhima recognized the bull to be Shiva and tried to catch him. Shiva trying to hide, dived into the ground but Bhima caught the bull by its tails as he was disappearing. Then Pandavas prayed to him over and over again. Following that Shiva is said to appear in parts in the following regions: – The Bulls hump – Kedarnath, The Bulls head – Pashupatinath. The Pandavas then meditated and attained salvation.
The Linga in Pashupatinath has 5 heads: east facing – Tatpurusha; north facing – Ardhanarishwara; west facing – Sadyojata; south facing – Aghora and the upward facing Nirakara.

The mesmerizing evening aarti on the banks of Bagmati river.

Open cremation on the banks of Bagmati river.

Sadhu‘s near the temple

By the time we came out it was late in the evening. On our way out we saw a marquee where a Sadhguru was telling the tales of Goddess Durga and how she killed Mahishasur. The faces are covered now, the veil will be removed on the eight day (I am yet to discover the reason for that and when I do I will let you guys know)


One thing I loved about these travels is that you uncover so many stories or legends and it make the journey all the interesting.

Time to call it a day … OM Namah Shivaya!!!

Diversity Trip – Amritsar

With OM MANI PADME OM still reverberating in my mind, we boarded the bus to Pathankot, from where we will take another bus to Amritsar. AND the reverberations I was hearing now were no where near to peaceful.

Just a glimpse into what I endured during the 4 hr bus ride: I wish I had recorded it but this video does perfect justice.

I couldn’t stop smiling thinking about such contrasting worlds just 50kms apart. On one side you have smiling peaceful stocky Buddhists and on the other you have feisty, loud and exceptionally tall Punjabi’s.

My next destination is the city of Amritsar where the Golden Temple is.

It was the night of Deepavali

 

Sri Harimandir Sahib or popularly known as the Golden Temple is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. It is accessible to every person without any distinction of Caste, creed, sex and religion all you need to do is cover your head when entering.

It is surrounded by a manmade lake of 150 sq.m. The lake gives it a sublime, serene and meditative feel. Of the two days we stayed there I found myself going to this place every morning and evening.

We also had our Diwali meal at the langar. Langar is a community kitchen where everyone is served free meals and the kitchen is managed also by volunteers.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh statue

Some more statues and a smiling Sikh 🙂

And finally it is time for some patriotism. We headed to Wagah border for the border gates closing ceremony. And we were going to close the gates on Pakistan so I was looking forward to experience. It was a testosterone filled environment from the minute we entered. The peaceful Buddhist in me had now transformed into a Raging bull ….LOL

You see the guy marked in orange, that is the Pakistan side by the end of the ceremony. All gone and they started brooming their side. And the crowd on this side, Indian are not done with their cheering and photo sessions, for us the festivities always last a little longer.

Back to the Golden Temple in the morning

Indulging in some soothing bhajan along with warm halwa 🙂

A Khalsa Sikh with his 5 K’s – Kesh, Kangha, Kara, Kachera, Kirpan and the humongous Dastar on his head.  These are initiated Sikh men who have vowed to follow the Sikh way of life commanded by the Guru Govind Singh.

A last look and time to stay Good Bye ….

Time to get back to the circus. Shredding the wildness and going back to being a tamed one 🙂

Part 1: Diversity Trip – Jammu

Part 2: Diversity Trip – McLeod Gunj

Himalayas – Badrinath

So, where was I in my Himalayan tour Part 1 – we reached Haridwar, took a cab to Sonprayag, took the back breaking horse ride to Kedarnath and trekked back. I was exhausted way over my limits, but the plan was to cross those limits and to push those limits and extend them 🙂

Triyuginarayan Mandir

Triyuginarayan Mandir

This is Triyuginarayan Mandir, with Sumeru Parvat(mountain) in its backdrop.

Story : It is said that Lord Shiva’s marriage to Sati was solemnized here in the presence of Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that the eternal fire which burns inside the temple never extinguishes. This place is way off the track some 14kms trek from Sonprayag but you get a very beautiful view of the valley and the step farmings, the girls of this area were exquisitely beautiful – I had to mention them 🙂

Sonprayag-sangam

View from the top – Sonprayag

Sonprayag lies at the confluence of the rivers Basuki and Mandakini. Somewhere there is also the hotel that we stayed in. Now we are headed towards Badrinath, fully determined to reach there by nightfall.

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Ohh… the scenic and beautiful valleys and step farms, as “Winter is coming” there were almost no tourists in the area which made our journey even more beautiful and relaxing, but there were no restaurants open too !!! YAY

Orange orchard

So we resorted to stealing some oranges from someones backyard, when they saw us – we begged for some oranges and finally they let us borrow some. Hmmm….. now I know what beg-borrow-steal actually means 🙂

I was very adamant about getting to Badrinath on the same day, had no idea we would lose day light by 5:15 PM itself and the route would be scary -scary-scary. Somehow we reached … Thank God. The town looked deserted, everyone had left the town and moved down for the winter. We got a room, some hot water and hot food and finally called it  a day.

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This is the first thing I see when I removed the drapes in the morning, I had no idea we were in the middle of the great Himalayan range. Badrinath is 10270 ft above sea level.

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Our Hotel Yoga, Badrinath

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I gazed at the wrinkled and rough hewn nirvana quiet mountains with a sense of awe.

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Badrinath Dham

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Ohhh… I forgot to mention about the early morning not so pleasant experience, I got up – got amazed by the view – got back to reality – went into the bathroom – turned on the tap – no water – called the reception only to be told that the water may have frozen in the taps because of the low temperatures. Now I understand why people migrate to the hills during this season. We got two buckets of hot water to do what we had to do. This is the first temple in my life to which I went without taking a bath… hmmm

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Now look at this – is this a joke!!! A hot spring right outside the temple and the taps in the hotel are choking.

Badrinath

By the time we came out my feet and hands were numb. I hope God is watching me and will reward me appropriately, and he did – the shack cafe – the only place open for breakfast, and the only thing on the menu was Maggi. Steaming Maggie with hot tea – that’s all I need for now 🙂

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Mana Village – the last village on the on the Indian side of the Indo-China border.

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Vyas Panthi – This is where the great epic of Mahabharata was written

Saraswati-

Can you see the small stream, that’s the Saraswati River, it is still thought to be a mythical river – which no longer exists. Maybe it no longer exists in its full glory but hey!! its still there.

There are two versions of why Saraswati exists only in the Himalayas

The Story: According to the Brahma-vaivarta Purana: When Ganga-devi cursed Saraswati-devi to become a river here on Mrtyuloka(earth), one of the conditions was that she would only remain on earth as long as rishis and other great sages performed tapasya on her banks. Since we are now in Kali-yuga, there are no longer these great souls performing austerities, so she vanished.

The tour guide’s version: In the above picture we saw Vyasa Panthi – it is the place where Ved Vyasa was reciting Mahabharata and Ganesha was writing it down, Vyasa got disturbed by the gurgling sounds of Saraswati’s water and asked her to slow down. But she wouldn’t listen so he cursed her to go obscure. So today you can see Saraswati only here in the Himalayan region of Mana Village where she originates and after that she goes underground only to emerge at the Triveni Sangam in Illahabad where Khumba Mela takes place.

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Keshav Prayag – Confluence of Saraswati and Alaknanda

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Now it was time to leave the abode of gods and return to lower grounds where the devilish minds are at work.

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Karna Prayag – Confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar Rivers and the last of the panch prayags.

I was supposed to take a dip in these Panch Prayag’s to attain Moksha but given the temperature of 8 degrees Celsius I’ll have to find other ways of attaining Moksha.

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On our way back to Rushikesh we could see villages and towns preparing for Diwali – the festival of lights

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Rushikesh – situated at the foothills of the Himalayas, besides Ganga river. It is famously known as the place for studying yoga, meditation and for temples and ashrams. To me it looked like the whole town’s having a hippie party.

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River Ganga – view from Lakshman Jhula

Haridwar Rushikesh

Evening Ganga aarti at Haridwar – the mesmerizing chanting of the mantras during the beginning of the aarti was the best way of concluding this trip.

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Haridwar market place

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A short visit to the Patanjali Yog Peeth on our way back.

Next time I go to Himalayas, I don’t want to be time bound and just let my instincts guide me.

Om Namah Shivay!!!

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