বহু দিন ধরে’ বহু ক্রোশ দূরে বহু ব্যয় করি,বহু দেশ ঘুরে দেখিতে গিয়েছি পর্বতমালা, দেখিতে গিয়েছি সিন্ধু।
দেখা হয় নাই চক্ষু মেলিয়া ঘর হতে শুধু দুই পা ফেলিয়া একটি ধানের শিষের উপরে একটি শিশিরবিন্দু।
(Meaning: For many a year, I have travelled many a mile to lands far away I’ve gone to see the mountains, the oceans I’ve been to view.
But I failed to see that lay.
Not two steps from my home.
On a sheaf of paddy grain – a glistening drop of dew.)
One fine evening of August (19- August-2022), when I was reading the above Tagor’s poem that awakened me to explore in and around where I presently stay. This was also immensely triggered by a Facebook posting of Partha-da ( Partha Chakaroborty, Former General Manager at Shree Krishna Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Anand) about the Vaijnath Mahadev temple at Jitodia which was only about 6 km away from my residence. I was staying in Anand since 1999 but never knew about this temple before reading his posting. I visited Uttarakhand several times to see the ancient Shiva temples but I did not even know that a 1000 years old Shiva temple exists so near. Encouraged by the Tagor’s poem and Partha- da’s posting, I did not waste time and went next day (20-August-2022) morning to see the temple.
Vaijnath Mahadev Temple-Jitodia
This is a very unique temple since water comes out from Shiv-Linga. I know very well that it’s hard to believe, my reaction was also the same. But one has to visit the temple to clear the doubt. Water that flows continuously from the Shiva-Linga is locally called Shiva-Ganga and this phenomenon is continuing from the time immemorial; no one knows where from the water comes. The local people consider this water as ‘Gangajal’ and believe that it has a divine power of healing of many diseases, hence take it as a Prasadam. I was told that years back, a District Collector analysed this water in a water testing lab and found that thewater was different from the water sources of the surrounding. It is unbelievable, yet a fact which I verified myself by taking it as prasadam.
The temple is in its existence since 11th century (more than 1000 years old) and there is a story behind it. It is believed that originally this Linga was created by Bhima (Pandava) to do worship of Lord Shiva during their “Agtvas”.This area is also known as Hidumbi Van (Hidimbi was the wife of the Bhima and mother of Ghatotkacha). As years passe this Linga had gone underground due to reasons unknown and the area was used by local people for grazing their animals. One day a cowboy noticed that one of his cows was milking atone particular place and it was repeating every day. The cowboy was puzzled and informed about this unusual event to the King of that area, Sri Shindharaj ji. The King sent his observers to verify this event. They observed that there was a small mount on the ground where the cow was releasing her milk. They decided to excavate to find out the reason. During the process they found that their tols were banging on some structure inside. They finally found the Shiv-Linga and informed the King about it. The King decided to take out the Linga from the forest area and install at his placeTherefore, he ordered his people accordingly to unearth it. Even after their best efforts to remove the Linga, to their surprise they could not find the base of the Linga. They informed the matter to the King, God appears in King’s dream in that night and ordered him to keep the Linga in its own place as such and construct a temple over there.
Even now, one can see so many holes on the surface of the Linga, from where water comes out. I presume that these holes may be due to the damage caused during excavation.
Mughals tried to demolish this temple so many times, but due to sacrifice of “Pujaris” and devotees this temple is safe till to date. One can find about 100+ “Samadhis” of those “Pujaris” and devotees beside the temple which are the standing examples of bravery, sacrifice and devotion of the people of that time.
From morning to evening this temple is open for all with some breaks in between. One can do “Abhishek” or touch the Linga. During Shravan month, many devotees come here from all over India. Similarly, 100s of Brahmins also do come here and stay for 40 days and do “Havana” and “Pooja” of Lord Shiva.
When there at about 8:00 am, I found a morning-rain washed, very simple old type temple structure within a very quiet and peaceful surrounding. At that time very few devotees were visiting the temple. One person was selling leaves of “Bilva” (gle marmaloes) which is normally offered to Lord Shiva. Inside the main temple boundary, there are some satellite small temples of Hanumanji, Mataji, Sai Baba, etc., in addition to the main Temple of Vaijnath Mahadev. I suppose that these small temples were erected in the recent past.
It was a very pleasant surprise to me when Pujari while chanting mantras, signalled me to go to him and put a “Tilak” on my forehead. When I wanted to give “Pranami” that was refused. I was allowed to take photographs. The Shiva- Linga was decorated with Bilva leaves hence I could not see the Linga with flowing water. On enquiry, I was told that to see the Shiv-Linga I have to go there either before 5:00 am or between 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm when the Linga is de-decorated. With this information I decided to visit the temple once again exclusively to see the Linga with water flow.
I visited the temple for the second time exclusively to see the Linga with water flowing from its inside on 23-Aug-2022. I reached the temple before 12:30 pm when the temple workers were changing the decoration (Bilva leaves). I had to wait till 12:50 pm to see the original Linga with lot of holes and water flowing from it. The devotees present there were served with the water collected the Linga as prasadam. I also experienced the taste of that water.
With great solace of witnessing the wonder in mind, I came out from the temple and returned back.
20-August-2022 After the visit of Mahadeva Temple I proceed to see a Stepwell, built in 1497 at Borsad at about 8:40 am. I reached Borsad Stepwell at about 9:15 am.
The ancient stepwell is located in Borsad town in Anand, Gujarat, India. It is also known as બોરસદની વાવ (Borsadni vav) in Gujarati.
The driving distance between Anand to Borsad is about 22 KM which takes about 30-50 min depending upon the traffic.
It was built in 1497 by Shri Vasu Soma and his family. It is a seven story stepwell and has 13 arches. The water is reached by flight of steps. It is a Monument of National Importance (N-GJ-69) now and is protected by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
There is an inscription in Sanskrit on one of the facing walls of the stepwell. It is dated Samvat 1553.
The stepwell is now inside the township, on one side there is a temple and a “arga” side by side. I could find one Mr Anwar who was appointed by the ASI for cleaning and maintenance. Very few visitors I could find there. I took a number of photographs of the stepwell and returned back to Anand with great satisfaction.
Disclaimer Information presented here has been collected from Wikipedia, folklore and from some other sources available in public dominie. No part of it is my work except the observations that I have presented in the Blog.
On 12-july-2022, unexpectedly I received a call from Dr. Arul of Quality Council of India (QCI) requesting to take up a Witness Audit (WA) of IndGAP in Bison Valley. He also insisted that it should be completed before 16-July, 2022. Since I was suffering from cold for the last three days I hesitated a little bit and told him that I would be available only on the next Monday that was 18-July-2022. If it was ok, he might inform me. I thought that since the Certifying Body (CB) was in hurry, they might find another person for the WA. However, he then sent me a mail stating that he would come back to me after contacting the client. Finally, he informed me in the evening by mail that the CB had agreed for WA on 19th and 20th and I should send him my travel plan for booking my tickets and making stay arrangements, pick up etc. I sent my travel plan as follows:
18-July-2022: Vadodara to Kochi via Mumbai
21-July-2022: Kochi to Vadodara via Mumbai.
Accordingly, I reached Kochi International terminal at 8:00 pm starting at 9:00 am from Anand. Mr. Albin C. Kurian, a young bright man of 20’s received me in the airport with an infectious smile. From our conversation, I could know that he is a B.Sc. (Ag) graduate with MBA in Agril Management from Kerala Agricultural University. He put me in a nearby hotel for my night stay and left with a promise that he would pick me up tomorrow at 6:00 am for going to Bison Valley which would be of about 3.30 to 4.00 hours journey depending upon traffic and rain. I quickly settled in the hotel and after taking bath, had my dinner with Fish Biryani. Quantity was so much that in spite of my best efforts, I could take about ¾ of the quantity served to me.
I woke up at 4:00 am and got ready by 6:00 am. Albin came with Mr Melvin Charley who would also went with us for the job. We left the hotel at 6:10 am and it was raining. We had our breakfast on the way. I relished famous Kerala Appam with coffee. We adored the majestic view of two water falls, one at Chirapara and another at Vallara. We did some photography too. Finally, we reached Camellia & Elettaria Resort at Rathnagiri for our stay at 10:30 am which was about 3 km away from the Bison Valley. It was in a unique location within a tea estate. Surroundings was mind absorbing and we were welcomed by the chorus of Cicada. We quickly checked in our rooms and within 15 min left the resort for Bison Valley for the purpose for which we came.
Bison valley is a village panchayat in Udumbanchola Taluk in the Idukki district of the southwestern state of Kerala. Bison valley is situated at around 915 m (<3000 ft) above mean see level. Western Ghat range of mountains with lash green cover and bright wild flowers are its beauty. Idukki district is known for its Cardamom hills in Kerala. In addition, other species such as Nutmeg and Black pepper are also grown in large acreage. Two important rivers, Periyar and Pamba orginate and flow through Idukki districts.
Around 66% of Kerala’s power generation is from various Hydroelectric Power Projects in Idukki district. Hence, it is also full of large and small dams. The Idukki Dam is one of the highest arch dams in Asia.
The name Bison valley is believed to tell the history of the place, where the kings and officers of East India Company used to come for hunting Bison (large sized bovines like buffalo) during their vacations in Munnar.
Bison valley is connected to a rural road, about 24 km from Munnar, about 133 km from Cochin, 30 km from Adimali and 56 km from Neriamangalam. The nearest airport is Kochi International Airport which is 110 km away.
Beauty of the Bison valley was tempting me to capture its beauty of rain drops on mesmerising colourful flowers. I was clicking like an addicted man. I also took some photographs of cardamom, flowers and fruits; cardamom garden, nutmeg fruits and colourful nutmeg arils.
Where flowers bloom, so does the hope
After our job of WA was over, we left for Munnar at about 3:30 pm and reached Munnar by 4:30 pm. At Munnar, we were welcomed by a shawl of fog and clouds covering us. A light drizzling continued till we reached the Munnar point at 4:30 pm. We went to Madupetty reservoir and dam first through the tea gardens of Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Pvt. Ltd . Thereafter we went to Anachal (elephant corridor). We could not find any elephant first but when we were coming back, with a great surprise we could see a family herd of elephants at a distance. Light was dull and not optimum for a good snap. However, my camera did not stop clicking. Finally, we returned by 8:00 pm to our resort and called it a day.
We left the Resort at 6:00 am and reached the Kochi international Airport by 10:00 am. I took lot of photographs on our way back on various subjects such as gorgeous river; majestic water falls; Lovely wild flowers; Distant Dam; unique bridge on the river dividing Ernakulam and Idukki districts.
Nature always wears the colours of the spirit
We had our breakfast in a road side Sabitha hotel. I ate Idiyappam (string hoppers) with egg curry and coffee. Since flight started late at Kochi, it was a hell of a time for me to reach terminal 2 from Terminal 1 in Mumbai and thereafter doing formalities such as entering the airport, security check and finding the boarding gate. I reached Terminal 2 in Mumbai at 5:00 pm when boarding had already started. I was practically running in the airport and luckily could board the plane just before closing of the gate. Notwithstanding the last part of my journey, I reached back Anand by 8:00 pm with a great satisfaction of being close to the nature although short yet having a great feeling of “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads”.
Thanks to QCI for the opportunity given to visit Bison Valley
Mr. Albin C. Kurian and Mr. Melvin Charley for sharing their knowledge about Kerala.
Mr. Sanil Kumar for his careful driving and generously stopping in sightseeing points for my photography.
The Wikipedia and On line literature resources or giving insight of the place.
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“Once you visit mountains; you’ll end up having a life-long affair with THE NATURE”, I am not the exceptional.
After visiting Kedarnath and Tunganath, internal desire for visiting Rudranath, toughest of the Pancha Kedars was raising its head and I could not resist further. I and my co-trekker of my previous Panch Kedar treks decided to visit it as early as possible considering my growing age (70+) and we do not know when my physical ability will declare “no more trekking” in this life.
The Rudranath Temple is believed to be established by the Pandavas. After the Kurukshetra war, they wished to atone for the sins committed by killing relatives and Brahmins during the war. Therefore, they handed over the reins of their kingdom to their kin and left in search of lord Shiva to seek his blessings and pardon. First, they went to the holy city of Varanasi (Kashi), believed to be Shiva’s favourite place and known as Kashi Vishwanath Temple But, Shiva wanted to avoid them as he was deeply annoyed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war and was, therefore, unresponsive to Pandavas’ prayers. He assumed the form of a bull(Nandi) and hid in the Garhwal region.
Not finding Shiva in Varanasi, the Pandavas went to the Himalayas searching Lord Shiva. Bhima, the second of the Pandavas saw a bull grazing near Guptakashi (“hidden Kashi” — the name derived from the hiding act of Shiva). Bhima immediately recognized the bull to be Shiva and caught hold of the bull by its tail and hind legs. But the bull-formed-Shiva disappeared into the ground to later reappear in parts, with the hump appearing in Kedarnath, the arms appearing in Tunganath, the face appearing at Rudranath, navel portion and stomach appearing in Madhyamaheshwar and the hair appearing in Kalpeshwar. The Pandavas pleased with this reappearance in five different forms, built temples at the five places for worshiping Lord Shiva. The Pandavas were thus freed from their sins.
Rudranath temple is the third Kedar (Tritiya) amongst Pancha Kedars situated in Gopeshwar Mandal in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. It is located at approximately 3,550 meters (11, 500 ft) above sea level. However, one has to cross Pitradhar which is above 13,000+ ft to reach Rudranath.
Winter home of Rudranath is Gopeshar Shiva Temple which is also known as Gopinath Temple situated in Gharwal region in the ancient route of Badrinath and Kedernath shrines. It is built in 11th century probably by Katyuri rulers.
The Trek of about 22 kilometres towards Rudranath Temple begins from the Saggar Village situated in Gopeshwar Mandal in the Chamoli district. Sagar (Saggar) is a small and beautiful village situated in Chamoli District. It has also long history. It was believed to be the birth place and enlightenment place of Chakravartin Samrat Sagara who was believed to be the great great grandfather of Bhageerath who brought the Ganga to the Earth and the ancestors of Lord Rama. Sakaleshwar Mahadev temple and Chamunda temple are also here which one can visit.
There are three routes that leads to Rudranath temple:
Since, we had been in Joshimath and also in Chopta, we decided to explore Rudranath Trekking via Gopeswar route for two reasons: i) it is the shortest trekking route and ii) to visit Gopinath temple for the blessings of Lord Shiva so as to get strength in completing the toughest Rudranath trekking.
We finally fixed our itinerary with the help of Mr Sandeep Bisht of e-Uttarnachal as follows:
29-May-2022 (Sunday): Ahmedabad – Dehradun airport; night stay at Rishikesh
30- May-2022 (Monday): Reaching Saggar village for night stay via Gopeshwar
31- May-2022 (Tuesday): Trekking to Rudranath and night stay at Panar Bugyal
01-Jun-2022 (Wednesday): Reaching Rudranath and night stay there
02-Jun-2022 (Thursday): Trekking back to Saggar with night stay at Panar/Liwatti Bugyal
03-Jun-2022 (Friday): Trekking back to Saggar followed by Rishikesh (by car) and night stay
04-Jun-2022 (Saturday): Rishikesh – Dehradun – Ahmedabad airport and back to Anand
We left Anand at about 9:30 am and reached Vadodara airport by 10:30 am. Flight was on time and left at 12:00 noon. Reached Delhi airport terminal 2 and went to terminal 1 by the shuttle bus. We had our lunch that my co-trekker brought . Flight was delayed by an hour and we reached Dehradun airport by 7:15 pm. There was no formality about e-pass checking and registration hence we came out straight to our waiting cab driven by Mr. Pradeep. We reached Rishikesh and checked in Hotel Tapovan at 8:15 pm where I booked three rooms in advance, one for Pradeep (Driver) (RN 101), one for co-trekker (RN07) and one for me (RN 04). We took dinner in the hotel and called it a day.
We started our journey at 6:00 am in the morning from Rishikesh. Enroute, we visited Dhari Mata Temple for an hour. There is a saying that one has to visit Dhari Mata for her blessings in travelling Uttarakhand. We had our breakfast on the way (Teen Dhara) and reached Gopeshwar at about 2:30 pm via Rudraprayag. We spent about half an hour in Gopeshwar Shiva Temple and captured it thoroughly in my camera (see my blog:
After the temple visit, we took our lunch one the way to Saggar village.
We reached Saggar village by 4:00 pm and checked in Sonu Home stay. The village is named by the legendary Chakravarty Samrat Sagara, the great-great grandfather of the Suryavanshi King Bhagirath (an ancestorofRama). We left our luggage and went to Sakaleshwar Shiva Temple in the village and returned after spending some time there. Mr. Diwan Jeeju (our guide) took us to a nearby hotel for dinner since Sonu home stay did not provide food.
31- May-2022 (Tuesday):
Diwan-ji (our guide) and his friend, Sunil and Pradeep (driver) joined us for trekking to Rudranath. We started our trek at 6:00 am from Saggar Village. After trekking of about one kilometre, we left behind the village locality and entered in the path of forest. The day was clear and sunny with occasional cloud. Weather was quite bright and favorable for us as there was no sign of rains. Rain could make the journey difficult in this path.
After leaving the village and walking for about 1.50 km, we got a small shop at Chandrakoti where we had our first tea and proceeded forward.
After completing about 2.00 km from Chandrakoti, we reached Pung Bugyal ( Bugyal = grasslad) at about 8.45 am) where there is a modest facility for stay and food. Pung Bugyal is a beautiful place with small green grass (meadow) in between a dense forest. We had our breakfastDal roti here and thereafter slowly started walking. After this place the path turned steep. The trek was getting tough with each passing step because of steepness and bad condition of the path. On the way we crossed Kalchat where we had tea and crossed Gime gime pani (a source of water).
After trekking of about 5.0 km further, we reached Mouli Kharak (3029 m amsl) at about 3.00 pm where a small shop and limited stay arrangement were available. Our guide, Diwanji decided to have our night stay in this place. Our original plan was to stay in Panar Bugyal which was about 3 km further away from this place. I feel it was an intelligent decision looking to our physical condition, specially of my co-trekker, who was completely exhausted to reach this place. Pradeep was giving her company in slow walking. I was walking ahead of them since I never wanted to have more rest. We had our lunch here with dal and rice. There were only two tents and one was allotted to us.
After lunch my co-trekker took rest and we went out for surveying the nearby places. Dewan ji took us to a place where he was organising nature’s camp earlier. We found a skeleton seems to be of a deer and we took photographs putting it on our heads. We returned back by the time the sun was setting. We had our dinner with roti sabji and slept early, since we had to get up early for the next day trekking. Limited mobile connectivity was available here. There was no power supply and hence the shop keeper uses solar panels for limited mobile charging and lighting. Since I used an App for our trekking information, I found that we trekked about 8.5 km with an average speed of 1.2 km/hr.
We started by 5:00 am and reached Lwitti Bugyal by 6:00 am and had tea there. After taking rest for about 15-20 min we were again on the trek and headed towards Panar Bugyal. We reached Panar Bugyal which is about 2 km from Lwitti Bugyal at 7:15 am and had breakfast with Maggie and tea. This is a beautiful place which reminds me the saying of Albert Einstein “The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see.” I was enjoying the gift of the nature and trying to capture it through my lens. The place and the trek had mesmerizing beauty of snow-capped peaks in one side and stone sculptures of the nature on the other side.
We left Panar Bugyal by 7:45 am and reached Pitradhar by 11:30 am which is about 3 km from Panar Bugyal. We took some rest there. It was the highest elevation in our trek, about 12,000+ ft above sea level. Pitradhar is the place where the trekkers pay respect to their forefathers. We left Pitradhar after about 20 min rest at about 11:50 am.
From Pitradhar, road started becoming a little smooth and descending. After Pitradhar we could enjoy a large patch of flowering Rhododendrons with buzzing sounds of honey bees busy in collecting nectar even in the peek noon hours. We also saw some Sambar deer in a distant place, hence could not capture a photograph. We also found a Monnal bird far away from us. Around 1:05 pm we reached Devadarshini point from where we got the first view of the temple. But even then it was not near and we took about one and a half hour more to reach Rudranath.
Our guide and Sunil went fast and fixed the stay arrangement just about 150 m away from the temple. Before reaching the temple, there was a Narad temple and Narad kund followed by Ganpati temple on our left side of our track. We could also see Surya Kund about 50-100 m down the path on our right side. By the time we reached our staying place at 2.30 pm, we were tired and hungry. The temple was closed and it opens at 3 pm. The food (rice and dal) was served to us and we enjoyed the meal. We came to know that the temple opens at 300 pm and Aarti at 7:00 pm. My co-trekker took some rest and in the meantime we four went to see the temple which was opened by that time. After taking some photographs of the Rudranath temple and Panch Pandav temples from different angles, we went to see the swarasti kund which was about 300 m down, behind the temple. I could also take a photo of red Nanda Devi peak due to setting sun.
We returned to the Temple and sat there till the Aarti at 7.00 pm. No photography was allowed inside the temple hence could not take the picture of Aarti. After the Aarti was over, we returned to our stay location. In a room we all five slept after the roti sabji as dinner. Soon the room became a snoring room and sleep was intermittently disturbed.
We got up at 4:00 am and left the place by 4:45 am. It was then dawn with a twilight. We slowly reached back to Pitradhar enjoying sunrise, the play of morning softlight on peaks especially on Chukamba.
We reached Devadarshini at 5:45 am; Pitradhar at 7:54 am; Panar Bugyal at 10:25 am. We had breakfast Maggie and tea and then left. We reached Lwitti Bugyal at 11:30 and had tea and biscuit. On our surprise we found a few young boys of teens going to Rudranath to built their endurance for the defence recruitment. We enjoyed the path full of wild flowers and carpet flowering of some species. Flora of Rudrathan trek is similar to Vally of flowers as well as Tunganath Trek. Our next stop was Mouli Kharak where we reached at 12:25 pm. We had lunch Dai-chawal and took some rest. We left the place at 1:30 pm for Pung Bugyal. We were moving slowly since while descending down one has to be careful for their toes and knees. The path was covered with fallen leaves, stones and pebbles. On the way we crossed Kalchat at 4:00 pm where we had tea and passed Gime gime pani at 4:45 pm. We finally reached Pung Bugyal at 5:50 pm and decided to have night stay there. We meet many local people on the way and also photographed a variety of subjects: tree; flowers; birds; forest; paths, etc.
Flora of Rudranath Trek is almost similar to Vally of Flowers and Tunganath Trek. Hence I have not added all that I captured during my trip.
We left Pung Bugyal at 5:45 am after taking a glass of tea. We walked very leisurely and took photos of our fellow trekkers as well as the village girls working in the field. We found among them a YouTube-r , Jyoti Negi who shared her mobile number and willingly posed for the photographs with a great smile. We reached Saggar at 8:30 am. Diwanji arranged breakfast in a hotel. In fact, he also joined his hands in cooking and we had roti with pumkin sabji and tea. We say good bye to Diwanji and left Saggar for Rishikesh at 9:50 am with Pradeep. We crossed Karnaprayag at 11:25 am; Srinagar at 1:45 pm and took lunch at near Devaprayag in Danveer hotel at 2:25 pm. We finally reached Rishikesh and checked in Hotel Tapovan at 5:30 pm. We took bath in hot water and relaxed for some time. We had our dinner at 8:00 pm and went to bed.
We got up by 4:00 am and left the hotel by 4:45 am to go to Joli Grant Airport. On the way we had tea and reached the airport by 5:40 am. We say good bye to Pradeep and checked in for going back to Ahmedabad via Delhi. Waiting for the flight, mind was engrossed with the experience of Rudranath trekking.
What E. O. Wilson said “Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.”, I was realising every aspects of it through my each step in Rudranath trekking experience.
We reached back to Anand by 5:00 pm with full satisfaction of a new experience and confidence that we can trek some more years. Every journey in the Himalayas gives me a different experience. Every trek has its own story to tell. Every trek gives me the pleasure to look at beautiful nature with a vastness of eternity. I look forward to once again be into the Himalayas where I go to lose my mind and find my soul.
Birds and Butterfly that I could click in the trek.
Toilet facility is minimum in this trek.
Age is not a bar to trek this route. One should follow the rules of Buddha’s Vipassana meditation. “look at only two steps forward” once you cross it fix your goal for next two steps. Finally, you will reach the destination, Rudranath, may be by taking a little longer time than others.
Don’t throw plastic bottles and plastic rappers in the mountain. A clean environment is a sign of a healthy environment. Keep an empty bag with you for bringing back the plastic litters that you may be crying in the form of water bottle, cold drinks, biscuit rappers, chocolate covers, etc. If you cannot clean the environment, at least do not spread the litter and plastic.
Confession: The beauty of the nature which I captured in my camera is so voluminous that I could not share even 5% of it in this blog.
My Co-trekker, for her cooperation and understanding to trek in adverse conditions.
Mr. Sandeep Bisht, e-Uttranchal for his support in arranging the trip.
Mr. Pradeep, Driver for his support and also trekking with us.
Mr. Diwan (Guide) for making all necessary arrangements for our best possible comfort that one can have.
Mr. Sunil, friend of Diwan for his company and sharing his knowledge time to time.
On line literature resources were used for the write up.
The Wikipedia for giving insight of Rudranath.
The Author: Satyabrata Maiti
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Gopinath temple is believed to be erected sometime between 9th and 11th century by affluent Katyuri Kings. After Pancha Keder shrines, this is the most revered Shiva temple in Uttarakhand. Architecture of the temple is same as Kedernath and Tunganath, having a large central dome of sanctum sanctorum. “Shyambhu Shivaling” known as Gopinath is placed inside the sanctum which has 24 doors. The famous Shiva “Trishul”, 5 m long is kept in temple’s courtyard. There is belief that true devotees can move the “trichul” by their slightest touch which is otherwise remain unmoved even by the greatest physical force.
Gopinath temple becomes the winter shrine of Rudranath ji for six months.
According to mythological belief, the “trishul” in the temple courtyard belongs to Lord Shiva who used this “thrishul” to kill Kamadeva (god of love) when he was disturbing Lord Shiva’s meditation.
Another belief is that when Lord Shiva turned Kamdeva in to ashes, Rati, the wife of Kamadeva did penance in Gopeswar. Pleased by her devotion, Lord Shiva assured her that her husband, Kamadeva would be back in life. The remains of broken idols found around the temple testify the existence of several more temples in ancient times.
There are three routes that leads to Rudranath temple:
Gopeshar-Saggar- Chakrakonda- pong Bugyal- Mouli Kharak- Liti Bugyal- Panar Bugyal- Pitru Dhar- Rudranath (Shortest route, about 25 km)
Chopta- Mandal- Anusuya- Hansa Bugyal- Naola Pass- Panar Bugyal- Rudranath.
Since, we had been in Joshimath and also in Chopta, we decided to explore Rudranath Trekking via Gopeswar route for two reasons: i) it is the shortest trekking route and ii) to visit Gopinath temple for the blessings of Lord Shiva so as to get strength in completing toughest Rudranath trekking which is toughest of all Kedars.
We finally fixed our itinerary with the help of e-Uttarnachal as follows:
29-May-2022 (Sunday): Ahmedabad – Dehradun airport; night stay at Rishikesh
30- May-2022 (Monday): Reaching Saggar village for night stay via Gopeshwar
31- May-2022 (Tuesday): Trekking to Rudranath and night stay at Mouli Khark
01-Jun-2022 (Wednesday): Reaching Rudranath and night stay there
02-Jun-2022 (Thursday): Trekking back to Saggar with night stay at Pong Bugyal
03-Jun-2022 (Friday): Trekking back to Saggar followed by Rishikesh (by car) and night stay
04-Jun-2022 (Saturday): Rishikesh – Dehradun – Ahmedabad airport and back to Anand
We left Rishikesh by car at 6:00 am. We paid our respect and took permission of the Dhari Mata for visiting Uttraknad. There is belief that without Dhari Mata permission one cannot visit Uttarakhand. Gopeshwar is located between Kedarnat-Badrinath route, about 10 km from Chamoli town. It is about 220 km away from Rishikesh. We reached Gopeshwar by 2:30 pm and easily located the temple and spent about an hour in the temple before leaving to Saggar village for night stay. We left the temple with a feeling of Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya (तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय)
My Co-trekker, for her cooperation and understanding .
Mr. Sandeep Bisht, e-Uttranchal for the support in planning and arranging the trip.
Mr. Pradeep, Driver for his support during the trip.
On line resources were used for the write up.
Share this:Matters that need immediate action to clean ICAR
“আমাদেরদেশেহবেসেইছেলেকবে, কথায়নাবড়োহয়েকাজেবড়োহবে I
মুখেহাঁসিবুকেবল, তেজেভরামন, মানুষহইতেহবেএইযারপণ I
But on the contrary, when I look around, I find that our boys and girls are having thick spectacles obesity, unfit body, gloomy face, lack of confidence, etcin their childhood onwards. This picture provoked me to think about why is it so. Ultimately, causes of these issues point out towards our little learning and disrespect to our own ancient culture of Ayurveda in the light of modern perspective having little understanding about the past. Thomas Babington, better known as Lord Macaulay, is the man who brought the English language and British education to India to produce clerks for their administration. He wanted to destroy India and he believed “if you want to destroy a nation, destroy its education system.” He did exactly the same by introducing The English Education Act, 1835. All establishments of Gurukul and Oriental institutions like the Calcutta madrasa and Sanskrit college were stopped. That was the nail, he struck on the coffin of our all ancient wisdoms. I think, many of us may recollect the story of the Novel “ Arogya Niketan” written by of Sri Tarashankar Bandopadhya on a conflict of two doctors, one MBBS and the other Ayurvedic who used to predict lifespan of the patients accurately. Have we ever realized about what is the treatment strategy of modern doctors? It is to make you drug dependent for the rest of your life. If you have a heart disease, medicine is lifelong; diabetics, medicine is lifelong; glaucoma, medicine is lifelong; cancer, medicine is lifelong; High Cholesterol, medicine is lifelong; Blood Pressure, medicine is lifelong; Thyroid, medicine is lifelong, it goes on. If you pip in our current education system, you will find the cause of this modern medical system.
Sir Albert Einstein said, education is that which remains when everything that learnt in school is forgotten. If we evaluate modern education by this definition, we will find its paramount outcomes which can easily be identified as aggressive competition, pride and envy. At its best, the modern education system imparts some professional knowledge and skills, but it neglects cultivation of heart. As a result of it, our society has become the victim of twine devils, greed and shameless consumerism in all walks of life you name. Doctors, engineers, lawyer, judiciary, police, politics, poet, intellectuals, etc. are not the exceptions. It is becoming worst day by day. As the Buddha said, nothing is permanent in this impermanent world and that is the ray of hopes we have for a change to come.
We were taught that if wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost and if character is lost, everything is lost. And I consider that our health is our wealth. We cannot enjoy our wealth, if we have a poor health. Considering that in mind, let’s go back to our ancient wisdom of Ayurveda for our healthy life. I would like to discuss here a very common practice that has disappeared due to modern days propaganda that all forms of fat and oils are bad for our heart and increases cholesterol level. Which is why we are now compromised badly in our health.
Since the time immemorial, Ghee has been an integral part of a “sattvic bhojan” (sound eating regimen) to annihilate side-effects of sicknesses in the body. It is the solid fat in ghee that works towards building a healthy liver and gut.
My appeal to modern mothers to realize the importance of consuming Ghee daily by their children if they want their children to be intelligent, strong and healthy. They should remove from their mind that Ghee is unhealthy, it increases cholesterol level, etc as sometimes endorsed by some uninformed or little informed modern doctors. I wish to place on record now before you about the goodness of Ghee for maintaining our healthy life.
Ghee is one of the most healing substances in Ayurveda. It is viewed as medicine in Ayurveda. In Ayurvedic literature, ghee is considered beneficial for the body. It helps to build the sapta dhatus in our body. That’s not all — it is rich in antioxidants, fat soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, and D. It also purifies the vata, pitta, and kaphadoshas which get aggravated in our bodies.
Now, here’s an important question — if there are so many significant uses of the consumption of ghee, which Ghee is favoured by Ayurveda? Answer is deshi cow ghee.
More than just clarified butter, ghee made from cow’s milk has a slightly nutty, golden flavour. It’s full of medium and short chain fatty acids including butyrates, which support a strong digestion, bile flow and a healthy microbiome.
Description in scriptures
“Ghee promotes memory, intelligence, agni, ojas, Kapha and medas. It alleviates Vata, Pitta, poison, insanity, inauspiciousness and fever. It is the best of all fats and is cold, madhura rasa, madhura vipaka. It has 1000 potentialities and so, if used properly according to prescribed methods, exerts 1000 types of action. ”
– Charaka Samhita
An Ayurvedic classic, claims ghee is beneficial for the whole body, and recommends it as the ultimate remedy for problems stemming from the pitta dosha, such as inflammation.
-The Sushruta Samhita
Here are some benefits of ghee
Cow ghee is known as amritam in Ayurveda, and is packed with A2 (absence of β-casein proteins) content, which is very useful in treating cholesterol issues. It must be a part of your daily diet, since it improves:
Helps to reduce stress, anxiety, risk of cancer, diabetes, and improves immunity
It is also anti-inflammatory in natureHelps to increase appetite and promotes flexibility.
Consumption of cow ghee is beneficial during pregnancy, but only after consulting a doctor.
Cow ghee improves the absorption of minerals and fatty acids in the body.
In facial paralysis, cow’s ghee is introduced in nostrils through nasya therapy in panchakarma.
It increases ojas and sattvic guna in the body.
Ghee for weight gain -For Shukra dahatu (Ashtanga Hrudayan 16/5)
How is ghee made?
Cow’s milk is boiled and cooled. Then a spoonful of curd is added to this milk and kept at room temperature overnight. The curd is then churned to extract butter from it. This butter is then heated so that the water evaporates leaving behind pure ghee.
Cream is separated by centrifugation and the fresh cream is heated to give pure ghee. However, this preparation gives less flavour than the traditional Ghee preparation.
Chemically, ghee is a complex lipid of glycerides (usually mixed), free fatty acids, phospholipids, sterols, sterol esters, fat soluble vitamins, carbonyls, hydrocarbons, carotenoids (only in ghee derived from cow milk), small amounts of charred casein and traces of calcium, phosphorus, iron, etc. It contains not more than 0.3% moisture. Glycerides constitute about 98% of the total material. Of the remaining constituents of about 2%, sterols (mostly cholesterol) occur to the extent of about 0.5%.
Ghee use in Hinduism and Buddhism
Traditionally, ghee is always made from bovine milk, as cows are considered sacred, and it is a sacred requirement in Vedicyajña and homa (fire rituals), through the medium of Agni (fire) to offer oblations to various deities. (See Yajurveda).
Finding ghee pure enough to use for sacred purposes is a problem these days for devout Hindus, since many large-scale producers add salt to their product. Ghee is also used in bhang in order to heat the cannabis to cause decarboxylation, making the drink psychoactive.
In Buddhist scripture, stages of dairy production are used as metaphors for stages of enlightenment. The highest-stage product, sarpir-maṇḍa, is theorised to be ghee or clarified butter (Wikipedia)
Ghee is one of the most healing substances in Ayurveda when used appropriately. It’s full of medium and short chain fatty acids including butyrates, which support a strong digestion, bile flow and a healthy microbiome. Research suggests it can even shut off gene expression for cancer and inflammation. Contrary to popular belief, ghee does not raise cholesterol, and is high in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), needed to build lean muscle mass and support weight loss. It is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins, including A, D, E, and K.
Ghee is taken with food for all who desire nourishment. It is best for those of Vata and Pitta constitution and especially those affected with fatigue, loss of strength, anaemia, jaundice and eye diseases. Young children, elderly and kapha individuals may enjoy ghee in moderation in small quantities. Add ghee to the daily diet of women, especially those who are pregnant. It is said to fortify the bones and the immune system.
It’s high smoke point (485º F) makes it great for cooking. You’ll find it used in everything from traditional Indian recipes to bulletproof coffee. Enjoy it on kitchari, sautéed vegetables or even popcorn.
In Panchakarma and Ayurvedic cleansing, ghee is used because:
It penetrates into and helps dissolve toxins in the tissues of the body. These wastes are then eliminated via the gut.
Ghee increases agni // digestion, without aggravating pitta dosha.
Ghee calms Pitta and Vata
Ghee keeps all tissues of the body young and supple.
Ghee can also be used in beauty and skin care.
For dark circles: give your under-eye creams and serums a break and try ghee instead.
For chapped and dark lips. Pour a drop of ghee on your fingertip and massage it gently over your lips.
For dry skin: use ghee for abhyanga – apply it on your body before bath for soft and smooth skin.
How and what quantity to eat
People of Vata and Pitta constitutions (adult) may take 1-2 spoonful of Ghee daily. Children should be given ½ spoon to 1 spoon depending upon their physic. There are five different methods of Ghee consumption as per the diseases:
For all the diseases below the naval cord such as piles, constipation, knee pain, swelling of legs, etc- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee just before the principal meals with hot water and then have your meal.
For diseases around naval cord such as diseases of kidney (stone) liver disorder, Pancreas disorder, gall bladder stones, etc- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee in between the meal with hot water.
For all circulatory diseases, blood related diseases, cardio-vascular diseases- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee just after the meal with hot water.
For Kapha related diseases such as bronchitis, asthma, dry cough- take 1-2 spoon full of Ghee along with the meal with hot water after the meal.
For all diseases of Eye-Nose-Throat, mental disorder- drink 1-2 spoon full of Ghee before going to bed with hot water. One can add Triphal and honey with Ghee and may drink with hot water.
Findings of Modern Science
Modern science has confirmed at least a part of the ancient wisdom concerning the benefits of Ghee. One interesting finding is that the saturated fat in ghee is primarily in the form of short chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids are easy to digest and help to promote the production of hormones and to strengthen cellular membranes. On the contrary long chain fatty acids present in other fats and oils, are associated with a host of health problems, including blood clotting, thrombosis, and cancer.
Modern science tells us that ghee also harbors phenolic antioxidants, which bolster the immune system.
One of the qualities of Ghee that makes it particularly useful in cooking is the fact that it has a very high “smoke point.” (385 degrees F). The “smoke point” is the temperature at which an oil starts to burn. It is at this temperature also that the oil begins to oxidize and creates the potential for cell damaging free radicals.
The last word
Ghee is nourishing and healing. Some consume it for weight reduction; others for weight gain and heart-related issues. So, accepting ghee as a part of your daily diet can be advantageous for your well-being and to fulfil well cherished desire of having healthy, strong (physically and mentally) and intellegent future generation. Young or old, no matter, add ghee in your daily use.
Ghee has been considered immensely superior to other fats mainly because of the presence of characteristic short chain fatty acids, carrier of four fat soluble vitamins viz., A, D, E, K and essential fatty acids such as linolenic acid and arachidonic acid.
Daily consumption of ghee in an adequate amount, imparts various health benefits such as binds toxins, enhances complexion and glow of the face and body, a great rejuvenator for the eyes, increases physical and mental stamina etc. in addition to providing sustaining energy.
Since, ghee is a fat-rich product; therefore natural antioxidants and other constituents like phospholipids and protein residues etc plays major role in preventing acidity.
Let’s remember the Health Benefits of Ghee once again:
Traditionally, the preparation has been used to promote memory, intelligence, quantity and quality of semen, and to enhance digestion. Ghee is believed to assist with digestion by allowing food to be broken down more efficiently, by stimulating digestive enzymes.
In Ayurveda, ghee is also believed to enhance ojas, or “life energy.”
For centuries, ghee has been considered a rasayana, which means a healing food that balances both body and mind.
Aged ghee—up to 100 years is even better than fresh ghee —which treats alcoholism, epilepsy, fever, and vaginal pain
Ghee’s benefits extend to topical use as well. Ghee as a massage base to calm sensitive pitta-type skin.
Ayurvedic remedies, recommends ghee, sometimes mixed with honey, as an application for wounds, inflammation, and blisters.
Ghee also contains known vitamin E and beta carotene, which are known antioxidants.
It can cure 80 diseases of Vata; 40 diseases of Pitta and 20 diseases of Kapha constituents.
The Buddha said that knowledge does not become wisdom until it is tested within the framework of our body. I tried to convert this ancient wisdom as mine by testing it within my framework of the body. Therefore, what I expressed here is my life-time experience. Some may not agree to it and I don’t mind for it. Ultimately, it is your life and you should decide what is right for you. Anyway, enjoy the life.
Let us end this discussion remembering always the age old saying
Disclaimer:Everybody gives disclaimer at the end, but I am giving it at the beginning of this blog to make it clear from the mind of the readers that this is not a self-help guide for learning Vipassana without going to a Vipassana center. It is only to make people aware about such a wonderful scientific technique available that can make us free from all our “Dukha” (=”suffering”, “unhappiness”, “pain”, “unsatisfactoriness” or “stress”), if practice in all sincerity.
Let’s understand what is Vipassana
Vipassana may be a new vocabulary to some and has no idea about what it means. Vipassana means “special viewing” and in the ancient Pāli language it means “insight”. It is the essence of the Buddha’s teaching about how to make actual experience of the ultimate truth. Even truth (Satya) is of various kinds: “Sabhda-satya”(=sounds that seems true), “Anuman-satya (=imagination that seems true)”, “Prakat-satya (=that appears as true)”, Saṃvṛti-satya (=empirical that common people understands which may be far away from the ultimate truth) and Paramartha-satya (=means ultimate truth). Vipassana guides us to see the ultimate truth that will liberate us from “Dukha”.
The Buddha himself experienced the ultimate truth by the practice of meditation, and therefore meditation is what he primarily taught. Not the religion that people believe. He of course talked about “Dhamma” which is not religion but the characteristic or quality of human being as all Indian literature writes “Dharama of water” or Dharama of physical matter”. He did not establish any organized religion (Buddhaism). His words are records of his personal experience in meditation, as well as like detailed SOP of modern science in the form of instructions on how to practice in order to reach the goal he had attained in experiencing the ultimate truth.
The Buddha in his whole life targeted to remove “Dukha” from the life of human being since it is a kind of disease which is again universal and distributed irrespective of cast, creed, colour, country, rich or poor.
Let’s understand what is “Dukha”
I think this does not need much explanation or elaboration. Every human being has experience of “suffering”, “unhappiness”, “pain”, “unsatisfactoriness” or “stress” in life. It is a part and parcel of our life as well as modern life style has added more such elements in our life. Stress related diseases are in increasing trend. What modern medical science called Psychosomatic (Psycho=mind; soma=body) diseases that was investigated and thoroughly understood by Gautama the Buddha about 2500 years ago. He worked through his whole life to liberate people from it by distributing his wisdom gained by walking in the path of liberation. He identified presence of it in all stages of life: “Jati vi Dukha”; “Vyadhi vi Dukha”; “Jara vi Dukha” and “Maranam vi Dukha”. We all want happiness but happiness also turns to “Dukha” because of our “Avijja or Avidhya (=lack of understanding and awareness)”. Rabindranath Tagor nicely expressed this conversion from happiness to sorrow in his poem:
“সখী, ভালোবাসা কারে কয়! সে কি কেবলই যাতনাময় ।
সে কি কেবলই চোখের জল? সে কি কেবলই দুখের শ্বাস?
লোকে তবে করে কী সুখেরই তরে এমন দুখের আশ ।”
The Buddha walked like a doctor scientist the entire path that causes “Dukha” and investigated the aetiology of “Dukha” disease, its ins and out, length and breadth from surface to core through his own bodily experience and then discovered the method of its control ie. “Dukha Nivaran”. He discovered
first two Noble Truths: “Dukkha-sacca” (=Suffering), and “Samudaya-sacca”(= Its origination and multiplication) which is “Law of Dependent Origination” as given below:
Vinnana (consciousness) ARISES > Nama- rupa (mind and matter)
Nama- rupa (mind and matter) ARISES > Salayatana (six sense doors)
Salayatana (six sense doors)ARISES > Phassa (contact)
Phassa (contact) ARISES > Vedana (sensation)
Vedana (sensation) ARISES > Tanha (craving)
Tanha (craving) ARISES > Upadana (clinging)
Upadana (clinging) ARISES > Bhava (becoming)
Bhava (becoming) ARISES > Jati (birth)
Jati (birth) ARISES > Jara-marana (decay and death)
Thus this vicious circle of “Dukha” rolls on. In other words, the origin of each link depends upon the preceding one. As long as this chain of twelve causal relations operates, the wheel of becoming (bhava-cakka) keeps rolling, bringing nothing but “Dukha”.
This process of cause and effect is called “Anuloma-paticcasamuppada” (Direct Law of Dependent Origination).
Every link of “Anuloma” results in “Dukkha”, suffering, as a result of avijja (=ignorance), which is at the base of every link. Thus the process of “anuloma” clarifies the first two Noble Truths: “Dukkha-sacca” (=Suffering) and “Samudaya-sacca” (= its origination and multiplication).
How to Get rid of “Dukha” or Control “Dukha” in our life
The Buddha discovered the first two novel truths and then when saw that it is a chain link of depended origination, naturally he found that it can be stopped if we can break the chain. But like a scientist he found that all links cannot be destroyed. For example, mind and matter cannot be destroyed; similarly, six sense doors cannot be destroyed; birth cannot be destroyed. He discovered next two laws:
“Patiloma-paticcasamuppada” (=the Law of Dependent Origination in reverse order) which clarifies the third and fourthNoble Truths, “Nirodha-sacca” (= the cessation of suffering) and “Nirodha-gamini-patipada-sacca” (= the path that leads to the cessation of suffering).
“Vedana” is the cause of “Tanha”, which gives rise to “Dukkha” and therefore, he discovered a method to convert ignorance into wisdom and with that “Vedana-nirodha, tanha-nirodho”which means complete cessation of suffering. This process of cessation is called Vipassana meditation which he was teaching in rest of his life to the people with great compassion and love.
Let us understand what “Vedana” means and how it looks like in little details:
In Sanskrit, “Vedana” means anguish. But in Pali it means either “feeling” or “sensation.” In general, “vedanā” refers to the pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations that occur when our internal sense organs come into contact with external sense objects and associate with the consciousness. Our primary senses are considered to be sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. All senses require one of four fundamental sensory capacities: chemoreception, photoreception, mechanoreception, or thermoreception.
In Vipassana, we start observing “Vedana” only on the surface level of the body and gradually one can fell inside. Whatever you feel on the surface is called sensation. It can be felt as itching, pain, heat, cold, numbness, trickling, pressure, heaviness, throbbing, etc., even some sensation, you cannot even name. Therefore, never search for anything different as sensation. When we practise awareness to sensation and equanimity together, that leads to liberation from suffering.
Understanding of our own nature and understanding achieve by direct experience of truth deep within ourselves, that is what the Buddha called “yathā-bhūta-ñāna- dassana”, the wisdom that arises on observing reality as it is not as we like it be. With this wisdom we can emerge from suffering and every sensation that occurs will give rise only to the understanding of impermanence.
Process of Vipassana Meditation:
It has three segments such as “Seella” (=Foundation); Samadhi (=Concentration) and Panna (=Wisdom).
My journey as Monk:
Vipassana is taught in India in various Vipassana centers established by the S. N. Goenka who brought this technique from Burma where it was preserved in “Guru-Shishya” tradition in pristine purity. It is taught first as 10-day course and thereafter one is eligible for other advanced courses such as Satipatthana Sutta Courses, long courses of 20-day; 30-day; 45-day and 60-day. One can ask me, how it can be called as Monk. Genuine question deserves genuine answer. It is so because Monk’s life style is being followed as long as you are in the course. A Monk gets his food from others donation; they don’t interact with society; they devote entire day for their practice and they follow Shilla-Samadhi-Panna with all seriousness. I joined a 30-day Vippasana course as Monk in Dhamma Khetta Vipassana International Meditation Centre (Address:Bus Stop, Ibrahim-patnam Road, Nagarjuna Sagar Rd, Gurram Guda, Hyderabad, Telangana 500070).
The centre came into existence in 1976- the first centre to conduct a course in this tradition during 4-15 September, 1976. Goenkaji named it Dhamma Khetta and he used to take two courses in a year in initial years until assistant teachers were appointed. The center was started on two acres land but gradually many people came forward and donated land to the center. It is now on about seven acres of land. A spacious Dhamma Hall for about 150 students and a Pagoda having 125 cells were built. It has a mini hall for about 50 students, another hall for 30 students and another one for 75 students were built. About 77 rooms for male and 60 rooms for female accommodation are available. The kitchen having modern gadgets and dining halls in both the sides are available. There are residences available for 2 female Assistant Teachers (ATs) and 4 male ATs.
The centre is 1-km away from the main road (which leads to Nagarjuna Sagar). The airport is about 34 kms away and the various train stations in Hyderabad are between 20 to 22 kms away.
One interesting point that I could note about the center after we broke Nobel Silence is that all the staff engaged in the service of the center have attended at least one 10-day course. I found that some have also attended long course, Satipatthana Sutta Courses, etc and therefore, service has a different perspective of kindness and love.
I reached Hyderabad airport at about 2:00 pm from Anand-Vadodara. My friend, Mr Udayan Ganguly kindly provided me a car in the airport to facilitate my timely arrival in the meditation center for registration. I reached the center by 3:30 pm. The Assistant Teacher of the course, Dr Satya Naryan Saha came in the counter and facilitated my process of registration and thereafter dropped me in my room. A small room with a bed and attached toilet and bathroom. A little Varandha in the front. The landscape is of forest having lot of trees but predominantly, coconut in male residential side and bamboo in the female residential side. At 5:00 pm there was a bell ring for light snacks. At 6:00 pm we were introduced to two Dhamma Sevaks and were shown to various facilities that we were going to use time to time during our stay. By 7:00 pm we started the programme by taking our oath for observing strict silence by shutting down our mouth (no communication by any form, verbal or body gesture) and strict follow of 5-precepts (no killing, no stealing, no lying, no sexual misconduct and no intoxicants). We were given various instructions for practicing Anapan (=Samadhi =concentration) and programme ended by 9:00 pm.
Our day started at 4:00 am by a bell. We all sat in meditation either in cell allotted to individuals or in the meditation hall at 4:30 am and continued till 6:30 am. The schedule for the day was as follows till 12-January-2022.
Work Schedule of each day
Morning wake-up bell
Meditate in the Hall or in Cell
Meditation in Hall or in Cell
Meditation in Hall or in Cell
Rest and interview with teacher
Meditation in Hall or in Cell
Meditation in Hall or in Cell
Meditation in Hall or in Cell
Break for lime-water
Group meditation in the hall
Meditation in Hall or in Cell
Retire to your own room
We continued our Anapana (Samadhi) for ten days and there after we were given Vipassana for practice with insight of its various aspects through discourse in the evening. Some of my experiences are as given below:
More and more I was going dip into the process, I was experiencing truthfulness of some of the Buddha’s words through my body. For example dhamma of the universe-nothing is permanent. Our body is not permanent, our mind is not permanent and whatever are the products of our body and mind are also not permanent. Therefore, our reactions to all these are also not permanent and we do because of our old habit pattern of mind which is due to our unawareness about the nature of these products.
Modern genetics revealed the hereditary pattern of the body but mind is an important segment of life that remained untouched. And according to the Buddha, mind has the ability to create wheel of life and death. The mind is governed by defilement (Bikar) that is accumulated in life after life.
The Buddha has talked only two things “Dhukha” which is an universal truth and how to eliminate “Dukha”.
His prescription is “Sabbe Sampojano”. “Sampajanna” means the Constant Thorough Understanding of Impermanence.
He explained it to others according to the understanding of the receiver. In the above statement, it becomes clear that one is “sampajana” only when one realizes the characteristic of impermanence, and that too on the basis of experience of sensation (vidita vedana). If it is not realized through vedana, then it is merely an intellectualisation, because our fundamental contact with the world is based on sensation. It is directly through sensation that experience occurs. The statement further indicates that sampajana lies in experiencing the impermanence of vedana, vitakkavedana, vitakka (the initial application of the mind on an object) and sanna (perception).
Here we should note that impermanence of vedana is to be realized first because according to the Buddha-Vedana-samosarana sabbe dhamma. -Everything that arises in the mind is accompanied by sensation.
I experienced painful sensation coming from nowhere and passing way after some duration and again coming and again going. It gave me an insight of Vedana-samosarana sabbe dhamma.
Eight-fold path in life is important and to be followed such as right view, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. Eight-fold path is simple yet powerful guide for all individuals including people in high places, political and business leaders, scientist, bureaucrats and professionals.
The Buddha talked about the middle path which is wrongly interpreted by many ignorant. Middle path does not mean to compromise with Shilla and eight-fold path. I remember, one of my known persons always tells that 100% following Seela is not possible, as for making ornaments, we need 22 carat gold not 100% gold. We always try to find justification of not doing the things 100% for our comfort by misinterpreting words of great people.
I experienced that one has to battle with his/her own nagging mind who brings past references again and again for the future escaping the present.
There is no express or bullet trains in this path to reach the final destination of enlightenment. One has to travel step by step in his/her own pace.
Similarly, there is no high speed washing machine for cleaning our dirty “Bikar”. One has to clean one by one when it comes to surface through equanimity.
How much time will take to reach the goal, that should be left to the nature since we do not know how much load we have and how much efficient we are?
At 9:00 to 10:00 am “Metta” was given to all and we were allowed to break the silence.
At 10:00 am we were made free to contact our kith and kens.
After final Metta starting at 5:30 to 6:30 am and the we had our breakfast and left the center as per the departure schedule of individuals.
About my batch of meditators
When we were made free from Nobel Silence, I tried to know who were my fellow meditator. I find that people from variety of walks attended the course. In total eleven meditators completed the course and they were from different walks of life such as school teacher, business man, retired geologist, retired professional, Engineer, Agricultural scientist, from actors family, veterinary doctor, Vipassana AT, etc. Age profile was between 40-85 years. It was amazing to see the enthusiasms and seriousness of the senior meditators. I now feel that why I made so late entry. Then remembered the discourse of Goenkaj where he was repeatedly reminded that everything should be left to the time of nature. Starting sooner or later, itself is a wonderful achievement.
I could also interact with few female meditators on 13-January-2022 and astonished to see three young meditators who have completed 2-3 long courses before coming to this course. One was dentist and other one was IT professional, third-one, I have no idea. When asked whom will you marry, the Dentist said with great clarity that if a boy having faith on this tradition, she will choose. The female meditators out-numbered the male in our batch.
Wisdom gained during 30-day course
We are in a world of illusion and our perception are also unreal. In the unreal world every product will be unreal.
We have no control over what is happening around us.
World is a stage where everything is arising and passing way.
We need to take action not reaction.
In the middle of the street, the Buddha taught Vipassana to a recluse and that is our final goal to achieve. He spoke only a few words, but those words contained the entire teaching:
“In your seeing, there should be only seeing; in your hearing nothing but hearing; in your smelling, tasting, touching nothing but smelling, tasting, touching; in your cognizing, nothing but cognizing.”
When contact occurs through any of the six bases of sensory experience, there should be no evaluation, no conditioned perception. Once perception starts evaluating any experience as good or bad, one sees the world in a distorted way because of one’s old blind reactions. In order to free the mind from all conditioning, one must learn to stop evaluating on the basis of past reactions and to be aware, without evaluating and without reacting.
I am grateful to Dr. S. N. Saha, my senior in the profession and now AT for dragging me in this path step by step.
Dr. Jagan Mohan, one of my IIHR colleagues who gave me the first information about Vipassan center opening in Bangalore in 1997 that stimulated me to take first course in 1997.
I acknowledge my mico- and macro-environments in my family and office when I was in IIHR that pushed me to search this path.
I am thankful to Mr Pidugu Ravindra Reddy, Center In-charge teacher for giving me the time for discussion on various issues of the center and allowing me for taking few photographs of the cenrter’s facilities.
I thank the Dhamma Khetta Vipassana International Meditation Centre and its wonderful kind-hearted staff for making my stay and meditation peaceful.
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We decided to go to Tunganath temple, Chandrasila and Deoriatal trekking during middle of October since the monsoon would withdraw by that time and the journey to the hills would be safe and enjoyable. Weather also would be moderate. Finally, after lot of discussions with our travel organizer, e-Uttaranchal we finalized the itinerary as given below:
17-Oct-2021 (Sunday): Ahmedabad – Dehradun airport; night stay at Rudraprayag
18-Oct-2021 (Monday): Stay at Sari Village
19-Oct-2021 (Tuesday): Trekking to Deoriatal and night stat at Duggalbhitta (Chopta)
20-Oct-2021 (Wednesday): Trekking to Tunganath and Chandrashila summit and back
21-Oct-2021 (Thursday): Trekking to Ansuyadevi and Chopta Mandal
22-Oct-2021 (Friday): Chopta to Rishikesh and night halt
23-Oct-2021 (Saturday): Rishikesh – Dehradun – Ahmedabad airport and back to Anand
Tunganath peacefully decorated on the Chandranath Parvat is the highest Shiva temple in the world ( about 12057 ft amsl) and also the highest Panch Kedar temple in Uttarakhand.
It is the third (Tritiya Kedar) in the pecking order of the Panch Kedars. Tunganath is considered to be more than 1,000 years old.
Out of all the temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, the cluster of five shrines of Shiva is the most revered. They are known as Panch Kedars. According to Mahabharata, when Pandavas were searching for Lord Shiva, he turned himself into a bull to avoid revealing. However, when Bheema tried to capture the bull, it disappeared and later reappeared in body parts at five locations, presently known as PanchKedar. These are as follows in spiritual order.
The hump reappeared at Kedarnath (1stKedar); the navel in Madhyamaheshwar (2ndKedar) ; the arms in Tunganath (3rdKedar); the face at Rudranath (4thKedar) and the hair and head emerging in Kalpeshwar (5thKedar). It is believed that the “Pandavs” built temples at these five places for worshiping Shiva.
Many devotees of Lord Shiva take part in Panch Kedar Yatra to all the five Shiva temples mentioned above. Panch Kedar trek is also very popular among people who like the thrill of trekking to the holy places hovering in the mountains. We are also among those thrill loving trekkers and always in search of undisturbed/lest disturbed nature and its beauty.
About another 1.5 km trek from Tunganath Temple leads to Chandrashila summit which is about 13000 ft amsl and offers a majestic 360 degree view of snow clad Himalayan peaks including Trishul, Nanda devi, Kedar and Chaukumba.
Deoria Tal is a lake at an altitude of 7315 ft amsl which is about 3 km from the villages of Mastura and Sari on the Ukhimath-Chopta road in Uttarakhand. It has heavily forested with lush green surroundings and snow-covered mountains of Chaukumba in the backdrop.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
At altitudes above 10,000 ft the chances of being hit by AMS are real. Altitude sickness does not distinguish between a first timer and an experienced trekker. Even experienced trekkers can get affected.
Fitness helps in making your trek easier. But do not forget that even a fit person climbing too high too soon experiences equal risk of developing AMS. Some symptoms to watch out for: (a) Persistent headache (b) Feeling fatigue or weak (c) Feel nauseous or vomit (d) Feeling dizzy or light headed, often while sitting up or standing suddenly (e) You don’t feel like eating, you have a loss of appetite (f) You don’t sleep very well at night.
As scheduled we started our journey from Anand at 7:10 am humming the song “Amar Ei Poth Chola tei Anondo”and reached Ahmedabad Airport by 8:30 am. Flight also left the airport 10 min early at 10:30 am. I was happy with the early departure. Flight reached Dehradun airport 10 min early. After formalities of vaccination check-up, we came out of the airport and called Pradeep (our driver) to come to the pick-up area. Rain started slowly. We left the airport by 1:00 pm to reach Rudraprayag for night stay. Traffic became stand still after driving for about 10 km. We reached Rishikesh police check post by 5:00 pm and got the shock when Police said that there was red alert and no vehicle would be allowed further. We tried to enquire from other sources also but could not get information. I tried to book hotel nearby but could not find. We wanted two rooms but either not available or too costly. Finally, I booked two rooms and a dormitory for the driver in an Oyo hotel (Spot on 79585 Hotel Tapovan Valley) about 1.6 km away. We settled there by 6:00 pm. After taking some snacks and tea, we went to Police station by walking to enquire once again about the situation. We were given the same answer. This time with one more additional information that the weather might turned to be like previous Kedarnath disaster. The CM was monitoring the situation and he had announced red alert. We finally, returned back to the hotel. Rain was not heavy in Rishikesh. Mind was running around about what to do. At a point I was thinking of abandoning the trip and returned. I contacted my friend, Dr. G B Raturi who was in Dehradun, to get some authentic information about the situation. He also confirmed about the red alert and discouraged me to cancel the trip. He advised that the alert was for three days and I had time up to 19-Oct-21. Even if we could reach Chopta on 20-Oct-2021, we could trek to Tunganath and Chandrashilla on 21-Oct-2021 and return to Rishikesh on 22-Oct-2021 as scheduled. Finally, we decided to do so and also to take a chance on the next day morning to go to Rudraprayag.
I got up at 6:00 am and had tea. At 9:00 am we had our breakfast and then went with the vehicle upto police station to see the situation. We found that some vehicles were allowed to go. We talked to an inspector and he told that we could go upto Rudraprayag. Hearing this we returned back to the hotel and checked out quickly and left Rishikesh by 11:00 am. Upto Srinagar we went smoothly, Pradeep (driver) was hoping to take us to Sari village for our night stay as scheduled. “Man proposes and God disposes”. After crossing about 10 km from Srinagar, we found there was a big traffic jam on the road. I walked to see the situation and found that there was a huge landslide ahead. Fall was still going on. Pradeep also enquired and found that it was not possible to clear the road even by next day. He contacted the Travel organizer, Mr. Sandeep of e-Uttaranchal and he was kind enough to manage two rooms in IVY hill top resort in Srinagar where we stayed in our last trip to Valley of Flowers. While thanking God for this arrangement, I was remembering that I wanted to avoid staying here once again in this trip since I wanted to reach Sari village early. Hence decided to stay in Rudraprayag. Man can plan but not necessary that planning will be always right. God knows what is right and therefore He/She brings changes in our planning which we may not like at that point of time but at the end we find it that it is good for us. With this understanding we checked in the resort by 4:30 pm. We ordered for some sandwich and mixed vegetable pakoda with tea. We were hungry and enjoyed the food they served. We had our dinner by 8:30 pm and slept with a hope that we shall be in a position to reach Chopta by the next day.
I got up at 5:00 am and found that sky was clear. We went out and took some photographs. We decided to leave early by 9:00 am. Before that we finished our breakfast and checked out by 9:30 am. Pradeep (Driver) enquired and found that road had not yet been cleared. He took an alternate route via Kharshu which was about 35 km longer. We left our every burden on Tunganathji and started enjoying the scenic view on our road side. After about 15 km we encountered a muddy patch of about 10 m where vehicles were struggling to cross. We got down from the car and Pradeep somehow crossed the patch with the help of other drivers who pushed the vehicle from the rare side. At about 11:15 am we touched the Rudraprayag high way near Daridevi temple. As per the convention, we went to Dhari mata for taking permission to visit Deva Bhumi and left the place by 11:40 am. We reached Tilwara at 12:30 pm and took diversion to Chopta at 1:10 pm. We took a road to Mukku math and enjoyed the route which was full of flora and fauna. We stopped over in Mukku math where Tunganathji stays during winter months. We offered our puja and then proceeded to Duggal Bhitta for our night stay in Mayadeep resort. Road journey was very scenic and took lot of photographs. We reached Mayadeep resort at about 5:00 pm. The resort was surrounded by dense forest of Deodar trees and lush green meadows.
At about 5:30 pm Pradeep came running to take us to show beautiful unobstructed view of Himalayas peaks just few meters away from our cottage. We went out and photographed the snow peaks till it was dark. Our guide, Dinesh came to meet us and told that we should leave tomorrow by 8:00 am in the morning. The place was very cold and we had our dinner in the room. We retired by 8:30 pm since there was no electricity except limited solar power supply. We got all our camera batteries and mobiles charged through the caretaker since there was no provision for charging in the cottage.
Zingiber chrysanthum Roscoe is a traditional medicinal plant species extensively occurring in Mukhi math path way, Uttarakhand. Sparkling red coloured flower mesmerized the viewer.
The kalij pheasant is a pheasant found in forests and thickets, especially in the Himalayan foothills. Males are rather variable depending on the subspecies involved, but all have an at least partially glossy bluish-black plumage, while females are overall brownish.
I got up by 6:00 am, got ready to have early breakfast and departed the resort by 8:00 am. While travelling in car, we went on taking photographs.
We reached Chopta by 8:30 am from where trekking starts. Slowly we started to climb up. It was about 2.5 km trek to Tunganath temple. I reached the temple by 11:00 am and light was not good for taking photographs. I spent about two hours in the temple complex and we had lunch together outside the temple. At 1:00 pm we started trekking to Chandrashila summit although it was not having photo worthy clear sky to capture the peaks. I reached the summit at about 2:00pm. We waited there hoping against hope for at least some clear view of the peaks. But it was not possible. Gradually the light was falling low due to heavy clouds and fog. We left the summit at 4:00 pm and reached Tunganath at 4:30 pm and stopped there for a while. We met many travellers (95% of the visitors were from Bengal) and had chat with them. We reached back to the base by 5:40 pm. In between there was drizzling and it was foggy. We spent some time in a tea stall run by a local women and her son from Mukhi Matth area. They run the stall for six months and return to their village when winter sets. We finally reached our resort by 6:00 pm. I was too tired and slept until food was served. After taking dinner I slept like a dead wood.
I got up at 5:00 am and got ready to leave the place by 6:00 am as per the advice of the guide so that we could see some birds and animals on our way. However, our car gave trouble in getting started and we lost some time. In the mean time we went out and took some photographs. We could also watch birds activity in the forest. Driver arranged a battery from other driver and got it started. We could leave the place by 6:40 am and reached the base of the trekking site to Deoriatal at about 7:00 am. Slowly we reached the Deoriatal by 9:40 am which was about 2.5 km trek . I took lot of photographs of birds and trees. The lake was amazing in which Himalayan peaks were reflected like a mirror. My temptation of taking photographs went on increasing one shot after another. We spent time till 12:40 pm and then had some noodles and tea. We slowly returned and on the way we went to Harihar temple which was about 500 m above the base. It was also an ancient temple. The Pujari explained us the details of idol and also told that the temple was from Pandava’s time We reached back to the base at 3:40 pm and Maydeep by 4:00 pm. I took rest in the cottage.
Nicandra physalodes is a species of in subfamily Solanoideae of the nightshade family. It has been adopted into the traditional medicine. Traditionally it is used as Analgesic, anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge and its regular use also increases bodily vigour. It is also used in the treatment of contagious disorders, toothache, and intestinal pain from worms and in impotence.
I got up early, went around and took very good photographs of birds. After breakfast at 8:00 am we left the resort by 8:30 am for going down to Rishikesh. We crossed Vijaynagar Agastyamuni at 10:20 am, Tilwara at 10:35 am, Rudraprayagsngam at 10:50 am and Srinagar at 12:10 pm. We had lunch at Dhanveer hotel, Moolayagaon at 1:00 pm where we took the lunch in our last trip also. The lady owner recognised us and served us with love and care. We reached Rishikesh in Tapovan area at 3:45 pm and hotel Laxmi Yellow at 4:00 pm. Preedep dropped us and left by 4:30 pm. After taking some rest for about 15-20 min, we went out to Laxaman Jhula and roamed around till evening. We enjoyed wonderful sunset standing on the Laxaman Jhula. We returned back to the hotel. Since there was no food arrangement, we had to go out for dinner.
We got up by 5:00 am and went to the Ghat for taking photographs. We spent about 2 hrs and then returned back to hotel. WE had our breakfast outside with puri sabji. We left the hotel at 10:30 am and reached the airport at 11:00 am. Flight was before time and reached Ahmedabad by 3:30 pm. Reached Anand by 5:30 pm. Mind was full with the experience of the journey which was moving like a kaleidoscope. New spirit for the next visit was raising its head in the subconscious mind. “May God gives us the strength and support for our next trip” with this prayer I slept early.
Dr. G. B. Raturi for his timely advise and mental support with experienced wisdom.
My Co-trekker, for her cooperation and cool support in changing scenario of adverse climatic change.
Mr. Sandeep, e-Uttranchal for the support in arranging alternate stay arrangements in our nature disrupted itinerary.
Mr. Pradeep, Driver for his support in partially completing the trip.
Mr. Dinesh, Guide for being with us in the trip.
On line resources were used for the write up.
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One fine morning in the month of June end, Geetha who was my travel companion in Kedarnath, Kalias and Mansarovar trekking trip came and expressed that let’s go to Himalaya again. After 2019 we have not gone anywhere due to COVID pandemic. Her interest is to visit ancient temples in Himalaya and my interest is to see the nature. Our interest did not clash because, all ancient temples in Uttarakhand are in the lap of least disturbed nature. I enjoy walking in nature while going to such temples. After lot of discussions we decided to venture Valley of flowers and HemKund Sahib since other temples are closed to public due to COVID situation.
Visiting Valley of Flowers was my long desire but somehow, it was not materialized. I decided this visit this year considering I am ageing slowly and do not know when there will be a full stop. When I expressed our plan before some of my friends, my old friend, Subir (Ghosh) expressed his desire too but somehow he could not make it. I started my home work for the trip and booking. I tried first to book our trip through Garwahal Mandal Vikas Nigam, but they did not respond. Then I saw an advertisement of e-Uttranchal and sent them my queries. I got their response immediately. In such trips they insist to share the night hotel accommodation to reduce the cost. I had to tell them that we are fellow trackers and need separate night accommodation rooms and also since their trip starts from Joshimath, I had to tell them to make pick up arrangement from Jolly Grant Airport at Derhadun to Josihimath with a night stay at Srinagar because our flight reaching time was at 1:00 pm. Mr. Sandeep Bisht (M:9891225211) was kind enough to understand our requirements and made an itinerary for us as given below.
eUttaranchal Travel Network !
Guest DetailsName: Mr. Satyabrata Maiti (9408035761)
Date of Arrival: 24thJuly Date of Departure: 30th July
Adult: 02 Valley of Flowers Tour – Day Wise Itinerary
Day 01: Pickup from Dehradun Airport and Drive to Srinagar (125kms)
Day 02: Drive from Srinagar to Joshimath (150kms drive). Stay in Himalayan Abode Homestay,
Day 03: Joshimath to Govindghat (22kms drive). Govindghat to Ghanghria (13 kms trek).
Day 04: Valley of Flowers (5kms trek one way). Stay in Ghangharia
Day 05: Hemkund Sahib (6kms trek one way). Stay in Ghangharia.
Note: Hemkund Sahib remains closed for tourists as of now. If it remains closed, we will visit Valley of Flowers on 02 consecutive days.
Day 06: Ghanghria to Govindghat (13kms trek). Drive from Govindghat to Badrinath. (Possible if Char Dham is open by then). We drive back to Joshimath at night.
Day 07: Badrinath / Joshimath – Haridwar
Accommodation in Hotels
24th July: IVY Top Resort, Srinagar (Single Sharing)
25th July & 29th July: Himalayan Abode, Joshimath (Single Sharing)
26th, 27th & 28th July – Nanda Lokpal / Valley of Flowers Holiday Homes (Single Sharing)
6 nights premium accommodation on as per itinerary (2N Joshimath, 3N Ghangharia, 1N Srinagar)
Veg and egg meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Evening Snacks and Dinner) for the trip duration as per itinerary
Entry fee for Valley of Flowers as applicable to Indian nationals
Fully escorted trek with fluent English speaking license holder local trekking guide (01 guide)
Charges for mules for trekking client’s soft luggage (1 piece of soft luggage, max 10 kg, per client)
VOF 6N7D Deluxe Package: Rs. 25500 per person including 5% GST
Swift Dzire (07 Days): Rs. 20000 (all inclusive) Cab Number: UK07TB4639 Driver Details: Pradeep Jiwadi (9720924265) (Pickup from Airport on Day 1, Drop to Airport/Haridwar on Day 07)
Total Tour Amount
Valley of flowers lies deep inside in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
It is believed to have been discovered in 1931, when three British mountaineers – led by Frank S Smythe – lost their way and landed upon this spectacular valley. Attracted by the beauty of this place they named it the “Valley of Flowers”.
At 3352 to 3658 meters above sea level, the gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park to the east. The park stretches over an expanse of 87.50 km2 and it is about 8 km long and 2 km wide. The park lies completely in the temperate alpine zone. Both parks are encompassed in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (223,674 ha) which is further surrounded by a buffer zone (5,148.57 km2). Nanda Devi National Park Reserve is in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Entry to Valley of Flowers opens at 7.00 am every day and last entry is allowed till 2.00 pm. You should start back around 1 pm so as to reach back by 5.00 pm. Though the Valley is beautiful in May, June and September. But for maximum number of flowers in July and August are most preferred months.
The Valley of Flowers is generally open on June 1st till end of September, every year and is the best time to see the valley in full bloom. The rest of the time, it’s a snow laid meadows and closed for the year. It is known for its natural flower bed that blossoms in monsoon.
The valley is believed to have approximately 520 species of plants, out of which, 498 are flowering plants. The Valley of Flowers was declared a World Heritage Site in 2005.
As Valley of Flowers trek is quite demanding, therefore tourists should be physically and mentally fit for the trek. The valley of flowers trek is well-defined and well paved. Although it is steep at many places, but except the day you go for trek to valley itself. Of course you can hire basket (locally called “Palki”) to reduce the difficulty level of the trek.
The Trekking starting point is Govindghat. One can reach Govindghat from Joshimath by car. No vehicles are allowed thereafter. Some local small jeeps can take you upto Polani which is 5km from Govindghat. From Polani one has to walk or can hire pony to reach Ghangaria (12 km).
Ghangaria – VoF – Ghangaria (Trek – 6 km + 6 km) new route
Ghangaria – Hemkund Sahib – Ghangaria (Trek – 6 km + 6 km)
Suggested Itinerary for Valley of Flowers
Day 1– Haridwar/ Rishikesh / Dehradun– Joshimath
Day 2– Joshimath – Govindghat Trek start place – Ghangaria (Trek – 5 km* + 12 km); *Jeep is also available
Day 3– Ghangaria – VoF – Ghangaria (Trek – 6 km + 6 km)
Day 4– (Optional) Ghangaria – Hemkund Sahib (Trek – 6 km + 6 km)
Day 5– Ghangaria – Joshimath
Day 6– Joshimath – Haridwar/Rishikesh/Dehradun
We started our journey on 24-July-2021 from Anand, Gujarat
Geetha came to my place at 7:30 am with the car and driver and picked me up. We reached Ahemedabad airport at about 9:10 am and left Ahmedabad for Dehradun airport named Jolly Grant airport at about 1:00 pm. There were formalities in the airport for RT-PCR checking. Mr. Pradeep, the driver of the car that we hired reported us in the parking lot when we were through with the formalities and left for Srinagar at about 1:20 pm. On the way we had our lunch in a road side hotel. We crossed Rishikesh at 1:55 pm and Devaprayag at 4:30 pm. Reached Srinagar by 5:00 pm. We purchased two umbrellas expecting rains although we had our raincoats. But I wanted an umbrella which will give me a cover to my camera when I take photographs even when it may be raining. I did the same trick in our Kedarnath trekking and it was very effective. Finally we reached our hotel (IVY Hilltop Resort) at 5:20 pm which was about 2.5 km away in a hill top from where whole Srinagar was visible. It is a beautiful resort having mountain peaks around and river below. Hotel is also surrounded by mango trees and a beautiful view of surroundings. I spent time in the outside courtyard and took some sunset photographs. We had our dinner at 9:00 pm and called it a day.
Air borne before landing in Deheradunairport
Air borne before landing in Deheradunairport
I got up as usual at 4:30 am and went outside sitting place. I could not take sunrise photographs because of cloudy weather. However, took some random photographs. We had our breakfast with Aloo-paronthan and left the resort at 9:20 am. There were road blocks due to landslides. Day was clear and warm. We crossed Karnaprayag at 12:30 pm and thereafter, we visited Dharidevi Mandir which is situated in middle of the river. Dhari Devi temple is located inside the Alaknanda River between Srinagar and Rudraprayag. The temple is home to the upper half of the idol of the goddess Dhari, while the lower half of the idol is located in Kalimath, where she is worshipped as a manifestation of the Goddess Kali.
She is considered to be the guardian deity of Uttarakhand and is revered as the protector of the Char Dham’s. Her shrine is one of 108 Shakti Sthals in India, as numbered by Srimad Devi Bhagwat. Fortunately, this temple was opened and we spent some time there.
We had our lunch at Piplakoti at 2:00 pm. Reached Joshimath and visited Narasimhamoorthy temple at 4:00 pm. I took some good photographs of the temple. Thereafter reached our hotel, Himalayan Abode home stay at 4:30 pm. Hotel was also in a nice location. Opposite to it is having a big hillock with zig zag roads. We found there were three couples who would also visit VoF and booked through e-Uttaranchal. Two couples were from Vadodara.
We had our breakfast early and left the hotel at 7:45 am with lunch pack. Mr Mayank, the guide came with us in our car. Other fellows travelled in a different car upto Govindghat. From Govindghat we were transferred to a small jeep. Our luggages were handed over to pony for carrying. We reached Pulna which is about 5 km from Govindghat. View was very beautiful. Lot of waterfalls were visible. I took some photographs from the running Jeep. We reached Pulna by 9:30 am. We started trekking from Pulna to Gangaria (12km). We reached Gangaria at about 5:30 pm. On the way we had our lunch and also real festive photography of scenic beauty of forest around and flora. Rain started by the time we approached Gangaria. On the way we met lot of other fellow visitors and I freely become uncle of many. Our Vadodara fellow visitors went to stay in tent camp. We reached the hotel, Nandan Lokpal and checked in 203 and 204 rooms. I took tea first and then hot water bath. Hotel boys were from UP and Nepal. There was oil massage facility also. It was pretty cold, about 12oC. We had our dinner served in the room at 7:30 pm and slept early.
We had our breakfast at 6:30 am and also packed lunch as well as some toffies. We left hotel at 6:45 am to reach the forest check post at 7:00 am. Mayank, our guide was with us and we had some problem in the checkpost when they wanted to see our RT-PCR report. I did not bring my mobile since I never felt it would be needed. Somehow Mayank convinced the Forest guards and we were allowed. We started walking at 7:30 am. It was a wonderful trek but very steep. I started with slow and steady pace; walking and taking rest while taking photographs. Wonderful scenic beauty of Lakshman Ganga river, snow peak, Forest path, flora in flowering, various types of mushrooms, etc. Geetha could not keep pace with me and since there was restriction of timing at the valley, I left her behind and went ahead to reach Valley to spent more time in the valley. I reached by 12:00 noon and spent about one hour taking photograph after photograph. Geetha came at about 12:40 pm. We had lunch and left the Valley at 1:30 pm. We reached back the check post before 5:00 pm (schedule time) and reached the hotel by 5:10 pm. We had tea and mixed pakoda and thereafter took a refreshing bath with hot water. Since Hemkund Sahib is closed due to COVID, we decided to change the programme and informed e-Uttranchal. Mr Sandeep suggested us to return to Joshimath after visiting temples in Pandukeshwar and next day visited Auli. We agreed to that arrangement. Our other fellow Vadodara couples decided to go to Auli tomorrow and then to their destination. We had our dinner in the dining hall at 7:30 pm and slept. I took lot of photos of various flora, mostly flowers and also of some wood rotting fungi (Mushrooms and ascomycetes). Some of those are presendted here.
Scenic Beauty of the path
Floral Beauty on the way and in the Valley
Wood rotting Fungi
Beauty of raindrops on the foliage
We had our breakfast at 7:30 am. It was raining since morning. At 7:45 am rain stopped and we left the hotel at Gangaria. I could see that most of the visitors were returning on pony. I was asked by many that whether I am from defence or not. I had to tell them that I am a civilian and has only NCC training for a brief period. They were wondering that at this age of 70 years how I am still trekking. In fact in trekking mind plays 50% and physical ability plays 50%. Therefore, one has to be mentally strong and should have determination. We came down to Pulna at about 1:10 pm and then reached Govindghat at about 1:35 pm. Mr Pradeep, our taxi driver was waiting for us there. We went to Pandukeshewr temple and from there returned Joshimath to our Himalyan Abode Homestay hotel at about 3:00 pm. We ordered lunch, only rice and dal were available. In the evening we just went out for a brief walking. We had our dinner with local dish. Slept by 9:00 pm.
We left the hotel after early breakfast at 7:40 am and reached Auli by 8:30 am. Auli,standing at around 2,800 m, and surrounded by acres of oak and coniferous forests, Auli offers panoramic views of some of India’s highest peaks, including the second-highest in the country, Nanda Devi (7,816m). It is also the gateway to the Nanda Devi and the Valley of Flowers National Park, including the Hemkund Sahib gurdwara, and popular trekking destinations such as Gorson Bugyal, Pangerchulla Summit, and Tapovan can be accessed through Auli. Besides Auli, Uttarakhand has several other skiing destinations, like Dayara Bugyal, Munsiyari and Mundali.We could not see the peaks because of cloudy rainy weather.
Hemant, a new guide was waiting for us. It was raining since morning. I along with the guide went for enjoying monsoon trekking. It was reminding me my Shillong days when I used to go for short trekking and also for the field experiments in farmers’ field. I trek about 3km and went upto the Nanda devi reserve forest area. We had tea on the way and returned 3km back to the Auili ropeway station. We had a roapway ride to get an aerial view of the entire valley. We returned back to Joshimath hotle by 1:30 pm. Photography was limited due to rain.
We got up early and had breakfast at 6:30 am, left the hotel at 7:00 am. It was a long drive to reach Haridwar (about 235km). There were landslides on the road at different places. We had break for tea and also for the lunch on the way. We reached Srinagar at 1:30 pm, Devaprayag at 2:30 pm, Rishikesh by 4:45 pm and Haridwar by 6:00 pm. Checked in Hotel Madhuban Guest house.
We got up in the morning and went to Ganga temple and from there went to Daksha Mandir where Daksha yoggya was performed by Daksha Prajapati and returned by lunch time. In the evening went to see Ganga Aarti.
We went to Ganga Ghat as morning walk. Returned back and then again went to have breakfast near temple and tested famous Mathurawal Jelebi. We left hotel at 12:45 pm and reached Dehradun airport by 1:45 pm. Flight was on time and reached Ahmedabad at 7:00 pm. Rafik Bhai, driver was waiting for us and we reached Anand by 9:00 pm. Mind was bubbling with the experience and the photographs that I took. I was also planning in my mind for my next trekking trip.
Thanks to Mr. Sandeep Bisht of e-Utaranchal for arranging our trip hassle free. Thank to Mr Pradeep, driver for engaging us while journey by sharing his experiences in life; Mr Mayank, guide in VoF for his constant care while trekking and also Mr Hemant, guide at Auli.
Recently when I posted photographs of some Naga Sanyasis after my Haridwar Kumbha Mela -2021 visit, one of friends asked a question “ why I am so interested on them” I had lot of curiosity about Naga Sadhus or sanyasis since my college days. They used to attract me for two reasons i) They avoid coming to the society normally and appear once in 10 years in Khumbha mela ii) Their unique appearance: They don’t put clothes on them even in winter. I did some search in literature to know about them and become fascinated. Let’s know about them.
Hindu dhrma promotes peaceful life taking into cognizance human relations with the nature. Cycle of birth and death is only a medium for the soul to reside in a human body, to elevate the consciousness to reach God.
People ignorant of great Hindu bhakti and traditions only make fun of Hindu ethos and rituals without knowing that Sadhus and monks who practice these high consciousness take penance to an impossible level that is unimaginable to common people even they take hundreds of birth in human form.
What Nag means?
Naga in Sanskrit means mountain, people residing in and around mountain are called Naga or Pahadi.
Histories of Naga Sadhus are stressed back to Manjodoro Harrapa civilization. It is found in coins and images where Naga Sadhus are shown worshiping Lord Sivha in Pasupatinath form. Alexander and his solders also encountered Naga Sadhus during their stay in India. Buddha and Mahavir were very much impressed by the penance of Naga Sadhus, their devotion for the people and motherland. Jains Digambar tradition has the roots in Naga rituals.
Naga Sadhus protected ancient Hindu temples from Invaders. Only a few people have knowledge about them. What makes them unique? How actually they become a driving force for the world to stay in synchronization to the nature? Naga Sadhus are equipped with various arms such as Talwars, Trishuls, Gaddas, etc to fight for protection of temples.
Aurangazeb and his terrorist army was defeated by Naga sadhu in 1664 when they assaulted Kashi Vishwanath temple. Naga Sadhus killed the army of looters that shocked Aurangazeb such an extent that he stopped the destruction of the temples for few years. This thrashing of Mughals was well documented in a book “Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Hinduisim” Volume –I by James G. Lochtefeld. It was illustrated as “Great fightback”.
William R Squeeze in his book “Solder Monks and Militant Sadhus” has depicted another incidence of heroic resistance of Naga Sadhus in the period of cruel Akabar.
As you know that there are many types of Sadhus or saints in Hindu religion. Of these, Naga Sadhus are seen in Kumbh Mela. In fact, they are the first to take bath in Kumbh Mela. Even, during Kumbh festival several people visit to the Akhara’s of Naga Sadhus to take their blessings.
Who are naga sanyasi?
The Naga Sadhus are followers of the Lord Shiva and known as Shaivites. They live in the Himalayas. One can become a Naga Sadhu only during Kumbha Mela. This initiation ritual takes place during the Kumbh Mela and is attended by different people of various age groups.
How one can become Naga Sadhus?
It is a mandatory to be a member of any “akhara” for three years before a sadhu qualifies to become a Naga sadhu. The considerations for selection include their health and approach towards their fellow men and women living in the akharas’ ashrams.
Process of becoming Naga Sadhu and their activities
1. Naga Sadhus have to undergo very difficult Examinations and practice of difficult “tapasya” to become a monk. It takes about 12 years to become a Naga Sadhu. Naga Sadhu stay in the Akhara’s.
2. It is compulsory to make Guru in the Akhara for becoming a Naga Sadhu. The Guru may be the head of the Akhara or any big scholar in the Akhara itself. The process of becoming a Naga Sadhu is said to be completed when Guru’s teachings are gained in a proper way. After serving the Guru, they can reach to the next step of becoming Naga Sadhu. No doubt Naga Sadhus are trained warriors too.
3.Naga Sadhus are both vegetarian and non-vegetarians also.
4. The Naga Sadhus in appearance usually wander around naked.
5. We see most of the Naga Sadhus in Kumbh Mela or in their Akharas. Naga Sadhus take part in Kumbh Mela and then move to the Himalayas. So, Naga Sadhus live either in Akharas or himalayas and usually visit the civilisation during the Mahakumbh festival in India to take part in the holy dip. It is said that seeing Naga Sadhus are equivalent to seeing the Lord Shiva.
6.As hard as the austerity of Naga Sadhus, they have many wonderful powers too. Naga Sadhus preaches and teaches humans about the special grace of God. Naga Sadhus through their austerities ha