Travels and Experiences 3
As I was thinking through the topic for my next post for the column, bumped into a talk with one of my friends, who wanted more from my travels from the pilgrimage aspect, especially of the holy places I had visited, Rishikesh & Haridwar. So, I put some thoughts down…
Well, decided to share the dearest and awe-filled experience of all (well, everything is all pretty much extraordinary for me usually, but this one stands out how it manifested).
It all started couple of months prior, planning for the India trip in February, to attend a family function.
Somehow my wish to travel north India, especially to the Holy places up near Himalayas and Ganga, became a reality, as the family decided to squeeze sometime to fulfil my wish. After all, 2020 the milestone year for me, turning golden in age.
Then, the search and the list of places to visit at Rishikesh & Haridwar began. Given nowadays, search begins on your electronic gadgets, Google, YouTube for some visual planning and then from talks with some dear folks who happened to visit prior and shared first hand experiences.
The list of places to visit began to grow and to my surprise one particular temple stood out and was surprised by the name, it was Triambakeswar Temple at Rishikesh.
India is a land of Divine places, a holy country.
There are n-number of deities and pretty much the soil of the country is filled with numerous shrines and sometimes or most times, names of them get shared and are similar, although they are located in different parts and states….
Some 8 years ago, I was told from an astrological recommendation to visit Triambakeswar temple at Nasik in the state of Maharashtra, to perform some pujas and offering for all the family’s well-being and for peace to ancestors.
As the saying goes, we all know, unless the time is ripe, things don’t happen. So, the wait began.
Probably at the subconscious state, the devoted idea and the place imagery already was etched deep inside, and waiting for a manifestation at some point in time.
I had ended up visiting India several times after that recommendation, but could not make that trip. The thought of visiting was not strong enough I guess, and probably also a practical aspect it became every time accommodating other things first, for the short trips I do…
Back to the current year trip, planning places to visit in Rishikesh, when I saw Triambakeswar temple being one of the places there, it rose to the top of the list, with a star reminder – *must visit. Decided, place doesn’t matter, the shrine and visit mattered and created a short-cut (I thought) in fulfilling the pilgrimage. The rest of places to visit were picked to fit our 3 day schedule and stay.
Then came the harder part, picking the place to stay. That took us a long time, and after days of decision making, we picked a hotel and said we were done planning and finalized all reservations.
We landed in India, flew to Dehradun, drove to Rishikesh. We reached there a bit after lunch hour, hungry we were and first rushed to have a late lunch.
Soon after, we debated whether to check in the hotel first or not, and ended up choosing to drive to a hill top shrine, 25 kms away, Divine Mother Kunjapuri temple. A precarious and scary drive it was, all along on a very windy narrow road. Afterall, the experience and ambience of the temple and its premises took away all the stress of the strenuous ride and scare out of us.
It took us couple of hours to get back to Rishikesh town. It was almost dusk, we then quickly checked in the hotel.
We were received with complimentary rudraksha beaded necklace and a refreshing juice, right there we felt good and quickly noticed the hotel was overall clean, nothing to worry about our stay there for the next 3 days and did not worry much about the hotel facilities or views.
It was now already the hour of ‘Arthi for Ganga’, we just rushed and stepped out to take part and witness the grandeur so many people talk about, which was a quick drive of 10 minutes from the hotel.
It was a very pleasant evening, river Ganga was gently flowing by the banks of the Ghats, receiving the offerings of all, lamps flowing in flower baskets along her course, music and chants vibrating off in the air, the scene was something to remember forever.
The gathering was warm, the rituals were done in a very organized manner. We returned to our hotel in couple of hours, had dinner in the hotel restaurant downstairs our room, and after all that long airplane travel, drive in car, and the visits covered so far, we just knocked down on our beds for the night.
Next morning, I woke up a bit early than others, finishing my routine morning prayer, slowly opened the curtains of my window and gazed out.
It was close to dawn hour, there was darkness still, the street lights on, and saw some small lit buildings and houses around in the neighborhood and as my gaze focused more farther, far into the distance I started to see a building that quickly caught my attention, building with many floors.
I quickly raised from my bed and started to see more intently and saw the long storied building, the shape and structure and quickly confirmed, from the pictures I saw during planning previously, it definitely was the ‘Temple’, ‘the temple of Triambakeswar’, with 12 floors, all lit, appearing in pinkish red hue.
I was numb for a bit, could not believe what I was seeing, did not expect such a stark site smacked right in front of me, the first sight of a morning, of the place I really wanted to see, standing out my window to confirm my intent and deep desire.
I just stared into the distance for a while, many thoughts rambled at first and slowly I quietened for a long time…
In the back ground were the Himalayan hills, could see the lining of the tips as it was slowly dawning, and to top the whole experience, noticed the sight of crest moon sitting at top, just above the hills and the temple, as if someone placed it and the whole view was so picturesque, as a painting.
Topologically I am sound and visualized river Ganga flowing down beneath, although couldn’t see that, but it was….
Just to mention, it was Shivaratri time, two days away, a sacred time for many to pray Lord Shiva, especially at Shiva temples, Triambakeswar being one… and there He was, showing me in form and attributes, His presence and manifestation.
We ended up visiting the temple later in the day, it was only a short walk from our hotel, crossing the river Ganga on the bridge, Lakshman Jhula.
The experience was just thrilling, walking up all stairs and 12 floors to the main shrine up at the top floor, the views of Ganga and Rishikesh town were extraordinary from the heights of the temple. One must visit, to feel that moment.
We are all familiar with the materialistic manifestations, the stories we hear and see from the acquisitions, achieving and accumulating many things people put out intentions in life. We are and claim to be masters now and show it to the world, don’t we?
The process: (thought) => (desire) => (intentions) => (space-time-complex) => Manifestations.
I am sure at some point one does and might question, what are we desiring beyond the materials? Any soul searching?
Is this all, what we call Life and Living? One can question, or may be should… for that resurgence of meta level experience.