Pages from a Pilgrim's Diary - Part 3
by Vimala Ramu
Back to Part 2
5-6-84 Gauri kund
Had bath in the hot spring. Started to walk at 11 am with hired javelin- like staffs on our ascent to Kedar, a matter of 15 Kms. It was a continuous climb compensated by gorgeous view all along. It started drizzling around 6 pm. The visibility was zero. All our group mates had gone ahead leaving just the two of us trudging slowly. Even if I had murdered someone or committed suicide, nobody would have been any the wiser. Tracing our way purely by the distant lights of Kedarnath, we both reached the place by 8 pm. My companion suffered a little from exhaustion and lack of oxygen and so fainted on arrival. She was revived with hot tea and we just made it for the evening arthi.
Slept in the lodge on the carpet with hired blankets and quilts.6-6-84
Went to the Kedarnath temple in the morning. What a glorious view of Kailash mountain with its clear, sunlit snow capped peaks! Going round the temple in a queue for Lord Shiva’s darshan was such a pleasant chore as the breathtaking view was with us all along.
To get back to Gaurikund, we both hired basket chairs tied piggy back to the porters’ backs. Slept all the way down.7-6-84 Badrinath
While the trip to Kedarnath was great, the trip to Badrinath was awesome, inspiring, tantalizing, beautiful and just grand by turns. The stark contrast presented by red rhododendrons against the white snowy background was simply unforgettable. It was indeed a journey to heaven.
Situated at an altitude of 10,000ft, Badrinath is a little lower than Kedarnath. While the latter is a peak, the former is more of a high valley.
Managed to reach the temple just 10 minutes before closing time. The town of Badrinath was a disappointment with its hotels and blaring music, most unlike a temple town. Alakananda river was freezing even to attempt a bath.
Had a more leisurely visit to the temple next morning.8-6-84 Haridwar
Safely back from the most elevating (!) Badri-Kedar trip after a smooth uneventful return journey. Compared to the tough 6000-10,000 ft, journey below 6,000ft looked practically harmless. Wonder why we were so nervous earlier. Thank God, we were not stranded anywhere though a record of 14 lakhs of pilgrims visited Badri and Kedar in 1 month with only 80 buses!!!
Due to Punjab problem, bookings had gone hay-wire. My companion wanted to go home. But, the manager said that the Agency would not refund the money if we quit midway. Fair enough. 9-6-84
Still waited in Haridwar for connections. Faizabad which had been selected instead of Chandigarh also seemed to be cancelled. Weather promised to be cooler with light showers. 10-6-84 Lucknow
Can you believe our bogie was docked in Haridwar for a total of ten days?
We had set off on what we expected to be the last lap of our journey. We came with all the haste to Lucknow and there we were shunted off, to be attached to the Allahabad train.
We took nearly 24 hours to reach Faizabad and then were stuck there as we were late by 3 hrs to make the connection.11-6-84 Faizabad
It was raining cats and dogs when we reached. A cool morning. A bath in Sarayu . Visited Rama’s temple and birthplace, the latter under lock and key.
We were coming after visiting the Ayodhyanath temple by an open tonga. A lot of water had collected in front of the temple. It was raining still. Suddenly the two of us who were behind the tonga driver, found ourselves piled up vertically above the horse and the driver! The poor horse’s knees had buckled down. The tonga had become vertical. It was too hilarious a situation. It took some time for the tonga driver to extricate himself out of the puddle and right the whole thing.
Agency was giving us sweets almost everyday. Trains to Allahabad were delayed due to submerged tracks. Weather was fine. We had come through the worst of the Indian summer. Back to Part 1 To be continued.....