Well, as usual we started in Delhi and had a bit of a look around. Now there were some reasons that we couldn’t attend our program in Ananda Nagar over the new year and would join an alternative program in Rishikes. Rishikes is normally the next stop after Delhi but instead of going twice we moved the program around and found some time to visit some altogether new place: Pushkar.
Pushkar is in Rajastan, an overnight train journey from Delhi. Here it’s very much desert like, with camels everywhere. The middle of the town has a lake and several hills (with temples on top) are around. Above you can see us on Camels! We did a two day camel safary. At night we slept on the sand under the stars and around the fire. I think we got a bit sick from the food provided but otherwise it was a great experience. Especially sleeping in the desert with no light except for the stars above is really unique.
We also climbed up the hills to visit the temples. The temples themself not overly interresting (one was closed) but the view was terific and doing meditation sitting on the rocks on top of the hill is also very nice. Well worth the climb!
From Pushkar back to Delhi to pick up Maya from the USA. She was not on holiday, but on study journey! A year off from college to learn everything about other cultures and get lot’s of life experince. I think all teenagers should get such chance!
From Delhi, the same day, an other over night train to Bodhgaya were we meditated under the famous Bo tree, where the Bhudda got enlightenment, as well as in the cave where he spend years of meditating. Unlike last year there were very few people so we could actually do some real meditation! Last time people kept coming and going, dropping coins in the donation box while going… Not quite the right atmosphere for quiet contemplation on the Divine!
From Bodhgaya, agian an overnight train… yes, almost all trains in India are overnight! Sometimes even two nights.
Next stop was Jamalpur where our Guru was born and spend His youth. There are so many inspiring stories around from the time He was there and visiting the place gives a whole new perspective. A lot has changed since, most trees cut, the town grown but still the charm can be felt! We also had the oppurtunity to visit the Railway office where our Guru worked in the accountants section as supervisor in the 60’s. Still a few of His colegues of that time were there and told us about how it was to work with Him. They were not his diciples but had so much respect not only due to His exemplary conduct but also how he used to answer all their questions like a living esiclopedia. Many more inspiring events that are hard to express here.
Nearby Hill in Jamalpur where our Guru used to do meditation when He was a child. That time it was a dense and dangerous jungle with tigers and other wild animals. Now it’s still a bit remote, you can see on the right photo that the town is beyond the lake in the distance..
After four days in Jamalpur we were on our way back to Delhi (yes overnight, 18 hours) to pick up five more participants and go all together to Rishikesh where we would have our new year program. Christmas we celebrated on the train, wearing paper yellow crowns made by Maya… Ok, we had only one crown but took turns and photos 🙂
After all this travelling we could relax for a week in Rishikesh with walks to waterfalls and beaches, picknicks and rafting. Though I am not sure if the rafting was really relaxing… I think it came under the adventure part. No one stayed dry and some were soaked completely! Though really cold it was great fun and exhilarating.
From Rishikes an adventurous journey to Nepal. All went well up to and accross the border and than we go a but with some probelems with the breaks. The driver was careful and several times we stoped to repair. Finally late night we stopped completely and couldn’t go furter due to the curfue. We had to sleep on the cold bus, for some it was getting a bit too adventurous… Next morrning we left early but got stuck again and no repair seemed to be possible any time soon. Fortunately we had Malati with us, she is a great mechanic and arranged seats on a bus passing by! Finally we were on our way, and after the customary fight about how much to pay we reached safely taking 18 hours instead of the 8 hours scheduled. I think we all recovered.
After a few days in Pokara, where we arranged all the things for our trek, we were on our way. Where the bus stopped for lunch break we had a Yoga break, few of the local kids also joined in.
Slowly climbing up, through subtropical, area with oranges and lemons to the cooler areas with pine trees. Big birds of prey overhead, very hard to catch with the camera.
Here we walk on the glaciated valey. Lots of stones, rivulets and dust storms. The air here is pure and crisp. In Marpa there are many apple and apricot orchards and many are cut and dried. Very delicious in the breakfast poridge or as snack.
The area becomes slowly dryer and more barren, also the culture and architecture is predominantly Tibettan. The last part of the trek, from Jomson to Muktinath is the toughest, I think, the air is getting thinner and climbing becomes much more of an effort. Night time it freezes but day time it’s very plesant.
In Muktinath there is a temple with an eternal flame. It has eluded me on the last four visits and I had started to wonder if there was indeed such flame. Finally this time we found it in a corner of the temple complex. There is natural gas escaping from the cracks in the rocks which burns with a pale blue flame. The temple is build around it. They say if a sinner comes near it flares up.
After Muktinath we walked back down to Jomson which has a small airport. We took a fight back to Pokara and I was fortunate to sit in the right place and saw in the 20 minute flight the whole route we had walked in 7 days. Some times you wonder… all that energy to walk up for days just to fly down again. No, the beauty and the fun of walking right there in the Himalayas is well worth it.
From Nepal back to India. First Varanassi where we visited the training centre and went boating on the Ganges. From there we went to Ananda Nagar where we visited Uma Nivas the Didis run project where Maya was going to study and I could see what was left of the Dome build last year… And the happy surprice was that it was in very good condition, and a bit more plastering had been done. I had been concerned what would happen during the Monsoon and no proper cover.
We also got chance to visit the Fosil hill, where millions of years ago the dinosours used to go when they felt their time had come to die. The whole hill is full of petrified bones, very interesting.
That’s it for the tour:-) In the mean time I had chance to visit one dome project in Puri where one of the other Calearth apprentices was building but more on that and the Dome health centre to be constructed in Thailand in next issue.