Swami Narayana and Swami Amba recently had the great privilege to make a pilgrimage to the Himalayas.
Here is Swami Narayana’s report, with photos by Andreas Cramer.
We met the Cramers in Delhi, and next day drove to Haridwar where we sent a couple of days acclimatising to India and generally exploring. It was here that we were joined by Mani and Karti from Tamil Nadu, who were friends of Skanda Vale and custodians of the sacred Arunachala mountain.
Our guide for the journey was to be Deepak Rana, another good friend of Judith, and if anyone is contemplating a journey in this area I strongly recommend getting in touch with him. Everything was organised with great consideration and efficiency. He has a great team who were a pleasure to travel with.
Evening aarti to Ganga Ma
Two days of driving found us in Gangotri itself, after a breathtaking and sometimes hair-raising drive up the beautiful mountains and valleys of the lower Himalayas, via Uttarkasi.
In Gangotri we first experienced the effects of altitude, being already at 3,000 metres.
We visited a cave where the Pandavas had sheltered during their period of exile. The resident saddhu made us chai while he chatted to Deepak. The temple at Gangotri is wonderful. Several of us had very moving experiences there. On the day of our departure to Gomukh we offered a puja there to pray for our safe return.
Gangotri & Gomukh
Somehow we made it to the overnight camp, to be greeted by a flurry of snow. Once the tents were erected our spirits were soon revived by chai, and a hot meal – prepared by our magician of a cook, doubling up from his role of Sherpa and experienced mountaineer. He never failed to have a cheery smile, and produced the best possible results from the supplies transported by the team.
Next we had to climb up the side of the glacier, then across the top, and finally a near vertical scramble up to Tapovan itself, which is a plateau about 8km long at the base of Shivling mountain. Personally I have no idea how I made it, save with help from pharmaceuticals, friends and the grace of God. In this sense it was a true pilgrimage.
Pujas in the sacred mountains
We met two saddhus who have separately lived up there for several years. We wondered at the discipline they must have, in the depths of winter – but we also understood the lure of solitude in the midst of such grandeur. We celebrated a puja to a lingam, ganga, vel and sri yantra together on our first day, and every evening had a simple puja and bhajan session.
Here we stopped and had a simple ceremony to lay the vel from Skanda Vale to rest in the river, once again praying for grace for the community and it’s work.
Sadhus & saints
A highlight of this time was meeting Lalita Mataji near Gangotri. She graciously spent a couple of hours talking with us, reminding us of the fruits of single minded dedication to God. She is an amazing individual, and we all felt blessed by her darshan.
We’ve had some amazing experiences and would like to thank everybody who made it possible, particularly Judith for being such an amazing organiser, Andreas for his photographic skills, Mani and Karti for never once complaining about the cold, and all the Gurus; Sri Subramanium, Murali Krishna, Alya Narayana and Lalita Mataji who were with us all the time.
A pilgrimage is a journey which brings you closer to God.Swami Narayana
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