My hubby Clayton purchased me a new backpack for my trip and my 50th birthday present (yes my BD is coming up on January 9th). I was determined that the pack would only hold 18 lbs. should I wish to go on a 1000 mile trek.
Now I find that everything that I have for some reason has expanded and trying to get it all into the pack is an interesting challenge. I wondered what I had brought since having so few clothes. Then I realized that I have enough remedies to start a small health store. Everything from grapefruit extract, wild oregano oil, activated charcoal, acidophilus, good ol’ pepto bismol, oh and the extra sheet and pillow case...small blanket and the list goes on.
After my whirlwind and fast paced days in Delhi, I decided to head north to Haridwar and Rishikesh areas. These are very famous pilgrimage and spiritual centres. Rivers, mountains and trees are venerated in India as the earthly forms of gods and goddesses.
Holy Ganga (the river Ganges, which originates in the Himalayas, flows through the northern plains, and merges with the ocean at the Bay of Bengal) is one of the most loved and worshipped goddesses of the natural patheon of Hinduism. Ma Ganga has powerful purifying properties.
According to the ancient scriptures, Ganga is a goddess residing in Heaven who came down to earth in the form of a river to provide salvation to the seven generations of ancestors of King Bhagirath. Not only did Ganga come to save King Bhagarith's ancestors, but she also was sent to Earth as a means of purification for the entire population of human beings.
Pilgrims travel from all over the subcontinent to bathe in her water as an act of worship and in the hopes of obtaining her blessings and realizing salvation. This is why the place has been an ever-refreshing mystic venue for the purification of the mind, body and soul. I will let you know how it goes!
Jet lag is finally catching up with me and after only a few hours sleep I am off to the Delhi train station for the 0650 Shatabdhi express train to Haridwar.
The railway system was put in during British rule and it is a very economical and efficient way to move around. I found my train platform, with a few people waiting for the train. I stood there wondering how I would find my car and seat and just then the train arrived and a beautiful Indian women with a small child told me to follow her.
I quickly picked up my things and walked the platform along side the train. A few cars from the front of the train we stopped at my car #C2. She said, "here you are and your seat 13 is inside. I will be in the car behind you." The beautiful women walked away with a smile. Wow, I know my thoughts are powerful - instant manifestation? I did not have to say or show anything to her - she just read my mind.
The train was simple and I think I was in first class. Right away I was served a large bottle of water and food throughout the trip. Very well done. I figured I would go for the food knowing I had the health store with me. Once settled in, I slept, listened to music (on my new I-Touch - which I love. Taking the time to download my entire CD collection has paid off) and read from an intriguing book I had purchased on the summary of Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
I have been studying Hindu mythology through my yoga trainings. And for some reason, I still wanted to find something that would sum it all up in a simple and easy child like way - especially since there are over 330 million of them. I have always enjoyed mythology, mystery, magic and stories of adventure.
Hmmmm...this sounds like my life.
A few of the people around me were curious about the book I was reading. In particular, one young man struck up a conversation. Valmrin is in the army and very insightful. He told me that I was the first foreign person that he was brave enough to connect with.
I was amazed that this young man at 22 years was so aware. He was very well versed on the law of attraction, science of mind and many other subjects. My awareness expanded through my connection with him. When I got to my destination, he came out to make sure that I found my way.
Once out of the station there was a man with a sign to my hotel - The Haveli Hari Ganga . I was not expecting this. The porter wheeled his rickshaw and loaded my backpack. Away we went on our decent into the streets of Haridwar.
I kept pinching myself and had to remind myself to breathe. I could not believe the feeling I was experiencing. It was like I was on a movie set and the director had just said "Roll".
The sights, the sounds, the colours, the smell of incense. It was much smaller and enjoyable than Delhi. Indians dressed very different - some without clothes at all. Food everywhere, people, cars and yes - many holy cows.
Not just the animal type....but what was coming out of my mouth when I saw rickshaws, motor bikes, people, cows all coming right at us. What traffic lanes?
Haridwar is a vibrant city as well as a holy pilgrimage site meaning Gateway to the Gods. Hindus revere this city and come from all over India at least once in their lifetime to connect with Har-Ki-Pairi ghat (meaning "Footstep of God").
This marks the exact spot where the river Ganges leaves the mountains and starts a slow journey to the Bay of Bengal. I witnessed many Indians here living the eternal cycle of death and rebirth, which are symbolized in the river Ganga's swift current.
At Haridwar, "asthi visarjan" (immersion of ashes) is as old as the story Bhagirath - meaning thousands of years. Cremation and immersions are symbolic of a profound understanding of our place in nature. The five elements of nature (earth, fire, water, air, ether) come together in this ceremony of death.
The fire that consumes the body, the wind that whips the smoke, the earth that bears the weight of bier, the water that will carry away the charred remain and finally, the empty space created by the consumed body. These final rites serve to reaffirm a belief in the cycle of rebirth. In this process, the river absorbs our physical remains and we become part of the external current that constantly renews itself.
I arrived at the Haveli Hari Ganga Hotel right on the holy river Ganges. I had booked a simple room. When I got the front desk, the girl told me that they were giving me the best room in the house...the Superior. No extra cost to me. Needless to say, I did not question this.
When I got to my room and opened up the doors to my private balcony overlooking the Ganges, I pinched myself again. What luck, or another example of perfect actualization?
I enjoyed the vibrant market on my own - often the only white person, yet felt very safe.
That evening I met Bruce and Debra from New York area and we enjoyed the Aarti Fire Ceremony on the ghat steps of the holy river Ganges. A puja or prayer to Ma Ganga.
This event has been going on for over 200 years and happens right at 6pm every evening. It is in sync with the other holy sites as well as local homes that perform the same ceremony. I was very fortunate to be blessed and have the experience right on this amazing holy river.
Everything happens so fast. The senses are overwhelmed yet excited with the sounds, sights and colours. Bells are ringing everywhere, people are entering the river with offerings of flowers and prayers.
After the ceremony, I wandered the market (open until 10 at night) with my new friends Debra and Bruce. Debra asked us, "so did you actually drink the water from the holy Ganga during the ceremony?" Both Bruce and I said "of course."
We had an interesting discussion about this - would you drink the water from the Ganga, full of ashes, bodies, and other stuff? For a moment my mind went to that place of not good thoughts. What have I done...what if?
Then I realized that my ego was talking and I quickly diverted my attention to Dr. Emoto and the messages of water. If myself and the hundreds of people were giving their blessings, thank you’s and prayers to Ma Ganga...that water would be holy and blessed and I will BE well.
Then again, when I left Delhi I could feel a slight tickle in my throat...and the next morning after drinking the holy Ganga water my throat was on fire and I felt like I was certainly not in my body. I utilized all of my intuitive powers to take a foot hold and get myself grounded again...to no avail.
You can image what was running through my mind. This was a great opportunity for me to stay grounded and really focus on wellness and nothing more than an adjustment to everything new. I decided to seek assistance from an Ayurvedic doctor.
He told me that I would be fine and I was just exhausted from travel...because I had just traveled from Belize and the warmer climates. I needed to stay warm...morning and night...eat apples, warm water. He gave me something and within a few days I felt better.
After feeling better, I ventured to take a cable car to the Maya Devi Temple just above the city. It is an ancient temple of Maya Devi, the Adhistkatri deity of Haridwar, know as one of the Siddhapeethas.
It is believed that the heart and naval of goddess Sati had fallen at this ancient saktipeeth. There were many Indian people from all over the world visiting this temple. Inside there were special pujas worshiping the different gods and goddesses.
I purchased an offering of coconut and other treats to be handed over at the temple. I was blessed many times.
During my stay at the hotel, I was blessed once again to connect with the manager of the Hotel Hari Ganga. What a kind and generous man. He invited me to stay as his guest in the hotel for additional days and with compliments, visit the nearby forest jungle areas.
Mr. Krishnan is an avid photographer and nature lover. We visited Chila Wildlife Sanctuary by jeep - a part of the Rajaji National Park located at the base of the Himilayan foothills with pristine scenic beauty and rich bio diversity. It has 23 species of mammals and 315 fauna species.
Most notable are the majestic herds of elephants, and also antelope, leopard and even a rare species of anteater. The spotted and sambar deer were abundant along with a host of bird life such as the Egyptian Eagle, kingfisher, parakeets and the list goes on.
I did spot a tiger track on the road near a large group of grazing sambar deer. Among the deer, the baboon monkeys were swinging from the trees. The male has a very long tail that curls up. You may have seen Indian men with a very long mustache that is curled up at both ends. They do this taking after the male baboon monkey.
The jungle in this area is also full of tress with medicinal properties. The herbs, spices and aromas were delightful. I am feeling extremely well now after being in the fresh air and so close to nature. A wildlife safari does wonders for the body, mind and soul.
I am heading out to visit the Van Gujjars nomadic tribal people tomorrow and a pristine spiritual forest. Until next time…