Friday, June 09, 2006

gangotri







My father often tells the story of an old man. Who went to a temple in the Himalayas. He traveled long and after a tiresome journey, finally walked up the steps of the temple, to see the poojari locking up the gates of the temple.

“Please open the gate I have traveled long to come here” said the old man.

“The temple is closed for the next six months. The deity has been taken to a temple in the valley.”

The old man was disappointed.. It was getting chilly and dark. The poojari felt sorry for the old man. He handed over his shawl and told him “Sleep near the verandah. U can make your way back in the morning.”

The old man sat in the front of the temple, shivering in the chilly, misty night, and surrounded by the huge, silent mountains. He must have dozed off. He felt someone patting him awake and saw the poojari standing in front of him.

“I couldn’t leave u here. I will stay with u. We can play dice to pass the time.”

They spent the whole night, playing dice. Finally it was morning and the old man’s eyes were moist as he walked down the steps. He knew that he wouldn’t be healthy enough to make the long journey 6 months later

As he walked down, he saw the poojari climb up from below.

The poojari looked amazed. “Are u still here?”

“Still here?” The old man was confused.

“Yes I remember you were here 6 months back. I am here to open the temple again..”

Realization dawned on the old man. He had been playing dice with the deity of the temple…! He had been protected in God’s arms, not for a night but for 6 months..!!

My father used to tell this story to impress upon us that God would protect us and look after us.

We just had to trust in him.

The gates of the Gangotri temple are closed on Diwali and are opened again after 6 months in May. During this time, the idol of the Goddess resides in the Mukamba village near Harsil.

I wondered if this was the temple where the old man in my father’s story had played dice with God for 6 winter months. I was also surprised that Mukamba village was the group of cottages that had caught my curiosity during my morning walk.

Gangotri is a small pilgrimage town. The place was crowded with pilgrims. Lots of tourist buses and jeeps were parked.

There is a lane winding up the mountain side, to the temple. The lane is lined by restaurant and small shops offering curios, brass vessels, bottles to carry water and beautiful chains made of Rudraksha and exquisite tiny coral colored beads


The temple painted in silver was a small one with huge bells hung in a row in the front ... Water from the Ganges is offered for pooja there. There was a meditation hall and broad steps leading down to the Ganges.

I was amazed to see people taking bath in the freezing water. Probably the belief that they would be cleansed of all their sins made them tolerate the cold chilly bath….

Some people were offering pooja. Some were floating small bamboo baskets of marigolds and lighted candles in the water. I too collected the water and floated the baskets of marigold.

Somehow, I didn’t feel any spirituality among the chattering crowd all around.

Few young men approached us asking if we were interested in trekking to Gaumukh. It was 19 km from Gangotri where the Bhagirathi River emerges from the snout of the Gangotri glacier. One gets a fine view of Mt. Shivaling from there.

Six km from Gaumukh is the Tapovan, a beautiful high altitude meadow above the Gaumukh.

I knew I wouldn’t make it. Gautam wanted to try it, but there was nobody else to accompany him. So the idea was dropped.

We spent two more days at Harsil, soaking up the nature. ..


The stimulating scenery was slowly becoming too much for my senses…. Somehow I felt burdened with all the beauty. The poverty and hardships that the locals faced were striking. The people seemed to cling to spirituality for comfort. There seemed to be a tiny temple every hundred meters.

Women worked very hard.. I saw women chopping wood…. carrying logs, firewood, provisions and water up the mountains.. And doing manual labor and tarring of roads alongside men. There seemed to be no natural source of income.. Not much agriculture. Tourism was confined to the few buses filled with pilgrims who came to visit the temple.

There were very few hotels … they served only roti, sabji, dal and chaval.. we had to sit and wait for the hotel people to go and buy the provisions from the nearby shops and then cook it for us. My boys were getting restless. Their tummies were growling for chicken and mutten..!!

I was getting restless too..


The harsh cold climate… the terrain. The strange food , The poverty and hardships around me were making me homesick.

‘Gods own country’ with its soothing scenery, swaying palms, serene backwaters, gentle rivers , mild climate and homely food was beckoning me back. I wanted to go home..

28 comments:

Alexis Leon said...

Enjoyed your story and the narrative. Feeling homesick? So come back :-)

Jaguuuu said...

:)

Doc... My Grandma used to tell me that story and many more. I so miss her.For Real Doc... U write so well....:)

>|' ; '| said...

loved that story

Geo said...

oh poet.. ;-)

i thot u had an inclination towards becomging a sanyasin... :-))


but knowing you very well, i am sure you wont ever become one...

The monk who is not willing to sell her toyota sera
=))

Sarah said...

I didn't know tht story..now another one for my kids bedtime story.. thanks..

silverine said...

Beautiful story. There are so many such stories..hope somebody will compile them before they are lost. But I wonder why the God played dice with him instead of giving him darshan?
The hill folks live in a diff time and space. They are content with their lot. If it was abject poverty then they would have left for cities in search of jobs.
Lovely write :)

starry nights said...

Beautiful story about the old man.Sometimes we juwst have to trust god to protect us. I like all the descriptions of the places you visited.

Newsandseduction said...

Deja vu!!

hope and love said...

alexis,
i am back..!!
:))
jaguu, write some of those stories in ur blog..and txs jaguuu.. for the compliment..
:))
poison,
nice to see u back..
:))
geo,
:))
namichu..
sanyasamo..? njano..?
dont u know that i spend each day spreading 'hope and love' and there is noi need for any sanyasam for me..?
:))
sarah,
thats so sweet.. make it very mystic ok...?
:))
starry nights,
txs..
nas,
same here..!
:))

Jo said...

That was such a nice story...

JamesBright said...

Very nice narration about the trip.
I really enjoyed it.

Jiby said...

great story...really inspired me...i really needed to read that!

gangotri/yamunotri is beckoning me like crazy but i am having trouble finding company to tag along...and ur posts have been good reference points..guess it wont be all that bad making the journey alone.

Maya Cassis said...

wow!lovely story and lovely pic :)

justme said...

:-)

Dhanush said...

There is some what similar story with Mookambika Devi and Chottanikara Amma. Daily Chottanikara Devi Visits Mookambika for some time in the morning and that time the temple is closed. May be all descended from the same story :-)
Sorry, but I couldn't resist saying this.. Some how there is some amount of light entering the film in your camera. Those golden colour on the sides of the pictures are saying that. Either someone opened the backside of camera midway or you are posting the ones that are took initaly after loading of the film, where the film is exposed while loading :(.

Anonymous said...

silverine,
hm.. u r right. They all looked relaxed & pleasant. It was just that I felt sorry for them..
justme,jo,maya and james,
txs a lot
:))
jiby, its worth making the trip alone. in fact I wud have loved 2 go alone, wandering wherever I want 2 go, just b by myself... Its not possible 4 me...
But it cud b possible 4 u
:))
dhanush,
yea all these stories may have the same origin..
:))
txs abt the advice reg the photos..
:))

Sarah said...

Ok. I had a nice evening story time with the kids.. I am stuck help me..
They want to know why the temple was closed? I replied in winter, eveything is closed down!! they answered but mama god doesn't close shop in winter. I know I dug my own grave.. Does anyone know why the temple is closed for 6 months.?

Anonymous said...

maybe its cos the climate is harshly cold.. the temple is on the top of a huge mountain..it must be difficult to maintain the temple..and maybe it is risky for the pilgrims to travel there..
there must have been no roads long back..
tell them it is to protect the pilgrims that god comes to the valley during winter..
even now the roads are officialyopened only in may.. its supposed to be risky to travel in winter with snow slides and all that..
we went to vist a tibetian settlement there.. but were dissapionted cos it seems they too go away for six months and come there only on may tenth..
tibetians r supposed to survive even in very harshly cold climate.. so u can imagine how bad it is..
anu

hope and love said...

r everybody finding it difficult to post comments like me..?
anu

Sarah said...

Thanks Anu...Wish I had thought of that..kids have gone to school and tonite I will explain part B..
Sarah

I hv no problems signing in

Sandig said...

Beautiful post... so sorry I missed wishing you a Happy Birthday. I hope your son is doing well after the incident... Being a mom is a difficult and amazing thing. I am so happy to have a little time to catch up with reading your blog! :) Blessings!

samrina said...

Very well written story, really enjoyedc reading it:)

Hope u doing fine there.

Takecare.

Arti Honrao said...

That is a very inspiring story!! I translated it in my mother tongue for my mom :)
ever heard of daughter telling stories to her mom :))

Also, the description of Gangotri made me feel like actually being there.


God Bless You
Arti

anumita said...

Seems like you had a heavenly time. Very well written!

cyclopseven said...

Inspiring story. God played dice not just with the old man but also is playing with each and every one of us but we don't realise that. Wish that Gangotri will spring forth from within.

Anonymous said...

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kit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kit said...

i saw one comment here someone is looking for ismael sandig jr., he happens to be my brother so... if you want to find him just leave another comment