Thursday, September 30, 2004

Essence of Life

For You I shall Live,
For You I shall die,
All those tough things
For You I will try.

For You I shall breath,
For You I will stop,
And all my desires
For You I will drop.

For You I shall eat,
For You I will not,
To the new qualities of life
For You I will sought.

For You I shall sleep,
For You I will dream,
When I'm all alone
For You I will scream.

For You I shall sing,
For You I will talk,
Till the ends of the world
For You I will walk.

For You I will love,
For You I will fight,
The Divine candle of hope
For You I shall light.

For You I shall shrink,
For You I shall grow,
The Essence of my life
For You I shall know.

P. Siddartha

(look for this at: http://steppingstones.to/light/enlightening/fountain/0107.html)

Inspiration

Rains were pouring and the streets were drowning
Birds were singing while the wind was dancing ,
Stars in the sky began shining in the day,
This was all when I first saw an angel all the way.
Her skin snow-white, she had a jasmine chin,
She looked like a prize that I needed to win;
Her rose-like lips and her tempting look,
Made me wonder if she was a Keats' book.
I was in ecstacy when I first heard her,
As she moved her tongue her tone was sharp;
Her teeth were shining diamonds all white,
Her voice was the melody of a musical harp.
The pits in which I fell were her cheeks' dimples,
The river in which I sank was her silky-dark hair;
Her eyes in the dark glowed like blue sapphires,
If poetry was my breath then she would be the air.

P.Siddartha
10 August, 2000.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A True Sonnet

The Love that I made was a juvenile crime;
For it was not some mad Romeo's child,
Which planted in me this desire so wild
To evil my mind and kill benign time;
As under the influence of a spell
Cast by a wild-eyed fairy's sweet romance,
I see a recurring dream, lost in trance:
Only to be later thrown into Hell.
My limbs no more walk to the Temple post;
My lips no more sing the prayer Holy;
Struck by some ill-conspired melancholy,
My heart no more aches for Apollo's ghost
Of whom a young bard from past sang aloud,
Seeing himself afloat over that cloud.

Friday, September 17, 2004

THE CALLING WOODS

A Passage to Kodai Kanal (September 11-13, 2004)
Part-I Reaching There

Nostalgia. How often do we get that feeling? I feel it every now and then. Amidst my deep contemplations, there is always a feeling of nostalgia to get back to my real home: the womb of Mother Nature where rest the graceful woods, mighty peaks and deep valleys. So as to gather the reminiscence of some beautiful past, I along with four of my friends went to observe, learn and enjoy the secrets of Nature personified in the form of the wondrous hill station Kodai Kanal.

Kodai Kanal is about 12 hours of journey from Chennai. Murali was the one who proposed to go for a tour of Kodai on the afternoon of September 09, 2004, Thursday. Suddenly, we planned for the tour, and found out that only five of us are interested in the trip. Rest of them were busy with their incessant businesses of doing assignments, project work etc. Now, it was Murali, Raj, Vivek, Sreekumar and I who planned to go ahead for the weekend and spend sometime close to Nature with all its delights waiting for us at Kodai.

We got our reservations for the train Nellai Express, boarding at Chennai Egmore Station up to Madurai. Got a taxi to drop us from our Brahmaputra hostel to Egmore. I find its fun to mention the dramatic events that occurred during our departure. Actually our Insti fellas were keeping us waiting for long to provide the Internet Connections at our rooms in the hostel. And coincidentally, that eventful day was the day we were moving away from the Insti for weekends. Had we got the connection a day earlier, perhaps we would not even have thought about going to Kodai.

Our train was set to depart from Egmore at around 9.30 p.m. This was on the 10 September, Friday. Actually, we got four of our reserved seats in a temporary bogie, the tatqal scheme. One of the seats, the berth was not confirmed, only seating was assured (RAC). However, with a little persuasion with the TT, the fifth (Sreekumar) also got the berth near where the rest of us were. We had jolly time in the train as it cruised ahead to Madurai.

During the night in train, at around 12.15 am, Vivek and I got down at a station “VRIDHACHALAM JN” to get some eatables as we felt like eating something. As we were devouring Ruffles’ Lays and Bourbon choclate-biscuits, a cop, probably a head-constable of the Railway Police Force, ran into us as he was on duty to put people to sleep on their respective berths. He, instead, shared our snacks and asked something very profound in Tamil. My answer was of course, the ever-helpful “Ennakku Tamil Teriyaadu”. I had encountered him again, after a couple of hours when he again said something in Tamil and without giving me a chance answered himself, the best I could give him: “Tamil Teriyaada”.

It was, at approximately 05.00 am when our destination was nearing. I was awake all night so I was ready, and then Sreekumar, Vivek joined me. After sometime, Raj and Murali also joined us. Out of nowhere, my friend, the constable came and informed us that Madurai was almost there and asked us to check our baggage. He frowned and asked if I was the guy who he talked to last night and smiled as he again uttered the same phrase in Tamil, the only one I learnt during the past one year of my stay in Chennai.
We landed our bases in Madurai by around 06.00 am. Had our tea/coffee stuff. Went to inquire our further journey. At the railway station was a tourist office. The person at the desk gave us the rates like INR 300 per head for the two-way journey (including a one-day tour) and INR 150 for just dropping us at Kodai. We opted not to take this conducted tour as we thought it would be economical to be on our own.

Right then, we inquired others who were waiting to take us to Kodai. A mini-bus would take INR 120 per head to drop us there. We opted out of this, too.

We went by an auto-rickshaw to the bus stand in Arai Paalayam. It was very economical only INR 5 per head.

At the bus stand we found a bus heading for Kodai via Vathalakundi. A fruits vendor at the bus stand told us to go till Vathalakundi and get a private bus from there, which is not much different from the government bus in terms of fare of tickets. We did the same, it was around INR 17.50 per head till Vathalakundi. The bus was quite comfortable and this made us to continue the rest of our journey in the same vehicle. We informed the same to the bus conductor. We had our breakfast at a local hotel “Amrita Vilas” near Vathalakundi bus stand. Murali was to stay in the bus to protect our temporary property i.e. our seats in the bus. We had Idli-Vada for our breakfast and bought parcels of the same for Murali.

The second half of the journey began, and the ticket per head was INR 18 per head. That means we saved around five times of our expenditure of just getting there from Madurai.

As we were climbing up-hill, the real fun had begun. I was at the window seat and found myself enjoying the ascent that had begun in a decent pace. I counted the number of butterflies and kinds of flowering plants/shrubs that had welcomed us into the hills and valleys. To quote the philosopher in me: “I preferred to count the 88 butterflies and 43 varieties of flowers and make my day pleasant rather than to count the infinite vices of men and make a pessimistic beginning.”

It took around 4 hours when we reached 2030 meters above sea level. At around 11.30 am of September the 11th, we were at Kodai Kanal preparing ourselves to enjoy the feast that Nature had to offer for us for the next couple of days.
Part-II Walking

“We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return; prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only, as relics to our desolate kingdoms.”
– Henry David Thoreau (Walking)

Walking had always been the best way to reach places where no advancement of science could take us. Probably because, walking is always associated with thoughts arising either out of observation or the leisure it has to offer us; and subsequently these thoughts take us to places not reachable by any other means. Any other medium of transport would not permit us to observe our proximity to the same level of detail as that like walking. With every step that we take while we walk, we get a fresh feeling either of a prolonged sentiment or a newly born emotion. I think there is a unique form of communication between our feet and our hearts so that with every new soil that our feet touch, a new epic begins in the heart.

After a journey by automobile vehicles, it is always pleasing to stretch your muscles and take a brief walk down the road, breathing fresh morning air into your lungs. So did it happen to us. The bus brought us to Kodai at 11.30 am. Here, the sun was shining with his entire candor and fresh breezes of wind from the valleys filled our lungs with infinite pleasure.

Our immediate endeavor was to find a modest accommodation that would suit our taste as well as economy. It is a common experience for any one who travels in India, particularly the South, to places of tourism, that a flock of predators called travel agents jump upon you and begin bargaining at the first instance of time you give them a glance. We did our best to escape them. However, one predator did get us off the hook and took us to where he promised a cozy and economic accommodation.

We got our guy at the local bus stand and he kept us walking behind him for what appeared to be a half-hour or so. While we were following him, a sample of another species of predators called us up and began in American accent. He was babbling stuff like showing 6 or 7 trekking spots. He seemed to be under the influence of alcohol and the way he spoke his words, I still remember and it had been a great fun all along the tour to imitate his style and monologue.

Getting back to the person who caught us by our heels, we went to see the hotel room he showed, only to find that we were not going to stay there for sure. It was an oky-doky sort of room, charge INR 310. It did offer a good view of a portion of the valley and we could feel the clouds passing us by. Some of us were already attracted to this location. However, finally we decided to see more places before settling down. Another guy who claims repeatedly that he is not a broker, that he is a travels owner, took us to another locality, to a Deluxe Hotel 3 starred. We did not like this either. In fact we loathed it. So we were on our own again.

We found another parasite who promised to get us a decent room by the lake-side. We thought it was in deed not a bad idea to have a room by the side of lake so that we can enjoy the view. So we followed our brother who took us to one May-Flower Hotel. Contrary to what we imagined, it offered no view of the lake. It was about a five to ten minute walk from the lake and was not in sufficient elevation to see the lake. Anyhow, we were too tired to bother about it, since we were surely not there to stay in the room, we were to stroll around. We had the final deal of INR 400 for the double-cot room, with hot-water supply on request to room service and cable-connected color TV.

Now it was around 02.00 pm when we started after making ourselves feel fresh. We went to a Drive-In restaurant. We were oddly seated in the restaurant such that people found it difficult to move in and out- thanks, for the location of our dining table. I wonder what made them keep the dining table that way. Anyways there is more to come. The bearer took what seemed to be eternity to come near our table to take the order. But then eternity did have a happy ending when the confused bearer came to us. I am saying confused because when we ordered for three tomato soups made into five bowls, he went inside to inquire something and came back saying he could bring the soup in three bowls but the splitting amongst five must be done ourselves. We Okayed and then ordered other food like Fried Rice, Noodles, Meals etc. The soup was a surprise…for we realized they don’t grow tomatoes in this part of the country. It was very ill-flavored hot water without any other ingredient. While we were having lunch, a heavy spell of rain amused us for the time being. All good-natured ridiculing already started amongst us friends and we were having a gala time.

After the lunch, we started sauntering toward the lake. It is a massive man-made lake offering excellent picturesque views. The water was polluted and quite terrifying. We first took for rent a row-boat for five. We had half-hour time. Myself and Vivek were the ones to row the boat. We sat at the centre while Murali and Raj sat towards the bow and Sreekumar near the stern. While Murali helped me to row the boat, Vivek managed it alone and pretty well. I guess we might have been on the row-boat for about an apprehensive quarter-hour and returned back to the shore. Then we took two pedal boats: a two-seater for Murali and Raj, and a four-seater for the rest of us. We had some candid photographs during the 45 captivating minutes in the chill of Kodai. We had all sorts of badinage while we were boating.

Then after the lake, it was finally time to walk. We started with the Coaker’s Walk…a famous walkway over which if one walks, can see wonderful mountains and steep valleys. It is neat presentation from the Nature to make our hearts go bonkers. We then strolled around, without bothering to know where we might end-up. We had good time all the while we were walking. We concluded our walk by stopping at the mall road.

We almost spent all our evening walking and on our way back, we stopped for dinner at Hill Top Restaurant. While others had thought of decent food, myself and Raj had altogether different purpose to go into that restaurant. Of course, our purpose was successful but not that of others, since we were not satisfied with the food. Even the clime inside was not as expected by us, seeing it from outside. We then had ice-cream at Baskin Robins.

Then we strolled back to our room at May Flower. We bought with us a 1.5 liter bottle of Coke and a 1 liter of Sprite. We moved away the cots to one end. Arranged the beds (mattresses) on the floor and put the day to rest.

Part-III Waterfalls

“We have a wild savage in us, and a savage name is perchance somewhere recorded as ours.”
– Henry David Thoreau (Walking)

In the first place, let me tell you why I have kept the title of this part of the passage as Waterfalls…it is NOT because there are splendid waterfalls in Kodai Kanal. It is just a private joke amongst the five members who went to the tour and few other friends. Waterfalls…cascades, cataracts are one of the most beautiful forms of Nature’s diverse personifications. I feel there is a lot of philosophy associated with the waterfalls, just like any other form of nature. Endurance, persistence, focused direction are some of the many qualities that the waterfalls have taught me so far. I look forward to learn more from them. The sound of water on the rocks that it beats is sweeter than any artificial musical instrument. It somewhat resembles the sound of air from the holes of a reed flute or the strings of a lute or a harp. No doubt the music of Kashmiri Santoor and Jal tarang are direct imitations of the notes produced by the water falling on the rocks at different speeds and different heights.

Next morning, i.e. on the 12th of September, Sunday, while Murali and I could not shake our lethargy off our wretched anatomies, rest of the gang, notwithstanding the pleasure we had derived earlier from walking, went on for an early morning sauntering, only this time they went deeper and closer to nature.

They returned by about 11.00 am and when we were all ready for a new outing, it was 12.00 noon. We then went to Hill Top again and had our lunch. Right after lunch we were in a dilemma of what to do next. We were actually planning to continue our holiday to Pondicherry and make Monday another merry day. So we had plans to go to Dindigal by evening so that we can forward our journey that way.

Somebody told us that the last bus to Dindigal was at 08.30 pm. So we had sufficient time for a local tour. Raj bargained a Taxi guy to take us to important places like Dolphin Nose, Echo Point, etc and then drop us at the bus stand. He demanded 400 bucks and we thought it was reasonable considering there were five of us. We then started to the valley where there are: the Mountain View, Dolphin Nose, Echo Point and some untidy stream of water which they called a waterfall. Our guy dropped us at the tip of the valley…the rest of the journey is by tracking. So off we went to see all the beauties of nature.

The first of the important spots was the Mountain View, when we look from here, the mighty mountains and steep valleys form a scenic impression in our minds. The landscape is almost irresistible. Then we go ahead to Dolphin Nose. This is a man-made shape of a cliff pointing into the valley to form a great viewing spot. We had some candid photographs of us taken here. Each of us must have felt like an Agent Hunt of the Mission Impossible theme. Along the way, we crossed to what appeared to be a water-fall. It was more like felled water than waterfall. At last it was Echo point. From the peak, we could see the real might of the mountains surrounding us. We could hear our own voices calling us. It was simply ecstatic.

Our next halt was Pambar Falls. Now this was close to waterfalls. Here it so happened that I was standing on the slippery rocks for long and eventually fell down. I didn’t get hurt but it did bring instant laughter in all our hearts. We took some cool snaps here. We spent sometime here musing about these cataracts. We then checked out another place which claimed to have waterfall. But unfortunately, there wasn’t much water. Excepting this lack of water, it was a nice waterfall. Notwithstanding our disappointments, we went quite enthusiastically deeper into woods to find a stream of water falling from rocks. We amused ourselves with these tiny waterfalls.

Then it was finally time to go to Silver Cascade. Truly majestic in appearance, it offered a nice hang-out, something which reminded me of a dream I used to see often in the forgotten past. Probably I knew I would see this one day with my friends by my side. Then it was about time for us to rush to the bus stand lest we might lose our only bus.

We found that it indeed was impossible to continue our holiday to Pondicherry and thus decided to get back to Chennai. We inquired one Travels Office about the bus; they said they had one at 06.30 pm which was ideal for us. But we had no cash, therefore had to rush to ATMs to get money. The only ATM was out-of-order. Fortunately we got money by swapping ICICI card in a Foreign Exchange outlet. When we got back to the office with cash, we found that the bus had no proper seats available, and these cunning fellows had planned to seat us in the cabin!!!

We changed our plans immediately and decided to stay back at Kodai. We got our Tickets to Chennai for the next day’s bus from the ITDC office.
We got ourselves checked in at Hotel Suhaas. This time two double cot rooms fully furnished with TV and an impressive room service.

At night we had our dinner at Hill Top Inn, this is different from the first Hill Top. We were the last diners in the restaurant and the proprietor of the hotel rushed us to order fast and get ourselves moving.

Phew!! It was really a long day. Goodnight for now.
Part-IV Rain

Next day morning that is on the 13th of September, Monday, we woke up lazily and had our breakfast at a nearby hotel. We had Idly-Vada again.

We walked down the mall road once again. Then we took a Taxi to take us to Pillars’ rock. The cab was to wait for us for a couple of hours and drop us back at that centre. We actually split into two groups to negotiate the best deal so as to afford a trip. As Raj and I were dealing things for 200 bucks, Sreekumar came running and still phanting told us to close the deal as he had managed a better deal for 180 bucks. Some other taxi guy was eavesdropping our conversation and begged us to go with him for 175 bucks. We thought our day was lucky and got into his Omni. Poor chap, he had to brawl with others to take us as his passengers.

We were right there at the Pillar’s rock but couldn’t see anything as fog was very thick. It was 11.00 am now. We asked our guy to wait there till 01.00 pm. Then we started toward the forest.

The woods were welcoming us with niceties like green shrubs, pines, and other trees. Monkeys mocked at us in grave concentration. The photos we had here were some of the best I shall ever have in my collection. We tracked uphill and observed that there was no one else walking like us.

As we went up hill we found amazing landscapes. We sat down at one location that appeared Divine to us and pretended to meditate. Despite my friends’ protesting, I sang Summer of ’69 from Bryan Adams. Perhaps even God didn’t like it, He sent a blissful shower unto us.

The rain got heavier as we started back downhill. We reached the Taxi well before time. This detour into the woods put a smile on my face and took my heart to corners of the world I never knew really existed. Imagination too, has limits.

We were at the Pillars Rock before 01.00 pm. Janta had their chai-nashtha, freshly minted candy and fresh carrot. We were dropped back at the Rotary Circle where we started our journey in the morning.

Back at the Hotel Room, we asked for a restaurant where we would get the best food, suggestion was to visit Hotel Astora. We followed suit. “Five special meals” we said. The bearer was kind enough to tell us that meant 37 bucks multiplied by 5 and UNLIMITED RICE and ROTI. That was the BEST LUNCH we got at Kodai.

After lunch we spliy again, as Vivek, Murali and Sreekumar felt like sleeping. It was raining tough, yet Raj and I started to saunter toward Coaker’s Walk. We took steady steps on the road as I bored him with my kind of stuff… doling out words which neither carried sense nor were they non-sense.

We walked between either ends of the Coaker’s Walk twice. On our way back we went to inquire the charges of cottages adjacent to the Walk, which offered great views of the neighbouring mountains and valleys. The cottages had a beautiful double -cot, neatly furnished rooms with fire place in the living room. Indeed this would be worth staying when we come the next time.
It was about 4.00 p.m. when we reached our lodge and we were drenched in rain till our toes. After changing, I tried to get a nap. As usual couldn’t. Soon it was tea time and we got the tea through room service. We had a nice tea party to end our stay in Kodai. Soon we went off to ITDC office where we were promised for a pick-up & drop at the place where the bus would depart.

To our surprise, they declined to drop and with fury we had to crusade towards Hotel Shivani where the bus awaited us. In fact, we had to cross the May-Flower Lodge with which we began out stay in Kodai. We found the bus quite comfortable and also realized it was empty. We then, baid goodbye to Kodai. The bus started exactly at 06.45 pm. The bus soon stopped at some locality where there were only fruit vendors all around. We took this opportunity to attend the nature’s call. Meanwhile Murali and Sreekumar bought custard-apples.

For the first hour plus half, I felt nausea. I thought I would vomit. I managed to control myself as I discussed intimate stuff with Vivek. But then, the bus soon halted at a restaurant where, it inadvertantly stopped for more than an hour. It was some business that the driver was having with some other vehicle. After interfering ourselves, the bus did move at last. Anyway this halt made me get back to my senses and I felt much comfortable on the plain road.

En route to Chennai, we were through Dindigal, Trichi and Pomdicherry. By 07.00 am on Tuesday, 14th September, we were cruising through the good old Mahabalipuram road. The coastal sun-shine and the morning sea-breezes seemed to pronounce Vanakkam and gave us a bear hug. We got down near the signal at Thiruvanmiyur and took an auto-rickshaw to our home, our IIT. We were there at the Taramani gate by 07.15 am and back in Hostel by 07.30 am.

Well, the journey is sure to end. But the reminiscent memories and the joy that was born during the moments of togetherness will never end. Who says Happy Ending exists only in fairy tales or Indian movies? Who says there’s no Paradise on the Earth? When there are woods calling and friends waiting for you to join them, what makes you think?


Pamulaparty Siddartha
Finished: 18/09/04

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Rhythm of Her

If only she were mine
I shall not need to pine!

Her touch would make me feel so fine
Her beauty such a treat to dine
Her eyes pouring most strangest wine
Her smile more warmer than sunshine
Her hairs knit like a cotton-twine
Her tempting looks when dressed to nine
Her curves some curly creeping vine
Her fingers, each ending into a tine
And gather in becoming one straight line
Her modest speech so sweet and benign
And yet her lips in taste saline
And from her thoughts when I resign
I find solace in her dreams divine

And more of her could I define
If only she were mine
If only she were mine

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Stanzas

O stranger- staying at my heart
Listen to this new parable,
Which I produce with all my art
To cause you interest ample.


A dream did happen in my life;
(A dream that seemed real and true)
The nymph with wings holding a knife
Approached a man, ailing was who.


This man since so long did await
The Golden Opportunity
Now fell a trap for this dame’s bait
That had nor mercy nor pity.


She showed him love and wild desire-
He lingered in the languid thought;
She taught him how to start the fire
His purposes all came to nought.


Deep rooted evil inside her
Gave him a strange satiation;
When each body met the other
Sin overrode all compassion.


Stars were cursing young lover’s fate;
The Truth began to show its face.
Love rechristened itself as Hate;
The knife tore flesh in decent pace.


His body trembled; a feared-
For, pain was insurmountable.
His final time in deed neared-
He felt death was but more humble.


Something cried inside him aloud
(That something was in fact his soul)
The rumbling of rain giving cloud
With thunder will not sound so whole:


‘Like a crazy cloud suspended
Between blue heaven and abyss;
My soul so tired and tormented
Can’t know what’s true and what’s amiss.


Lord, give me chance to re-sustain
Those holy objects of worship,
Which, alleviate wound and pain
Caused by the lash of Devil’s whip.’


So sang he elegy of himself
While she drank his blood for wine;
He lamented his greed for pelf,
The wealth of lust, that made him pine.


O stranger, staying at my heart
(O stranger, not so strange anymore)
That soul was ready to depart
The wretch’d body, down to the core.


This ode did occur more than once
Nay, many times than million;
Poets have sung merely hence-
Same song with all their affection.


I do request, O friend of mine,
Not try to pilfer my poor heart;
Pray, amuse until you feel fine
Not make shameful, my graceful art.


P.Siddartha
20th July, 2004

Thursday, July 29, 2004

FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE GANGA

 
A Passage to Uttaranchal (June20-21 & June 27-29, 2004)

Although I stayed in Haryana for about 6 weeks for official purposes, I really spent my most valuable and unforgettable time in the divine state of Uttaranchal.This state, endowed with richness of the nature’s true wealth, was without doubt once the land of the demi-gods. The mighty peaks and holy waters of this land have taught my mind to think high and pure. I had spent about five days here, in two separate trips.
During my first visit, I had been to meet Aamma who along with other relatives was on a trip to these holy lands. I met her at the Haridwar, perhaps the most ideal place to begin the uncommon quest for the other side of the universe. Mother Ganga (River Ganges), dancing in her many streams, flows with kind of strange wilderness. They say, once you take a dip in the holy Ganga, all your past karma will be neutralized enabling you to be free from the endless cycle. I wondered if the aggressive behavior of the Ganga is the force behind this mysterious phenomenon. Science may have its reasons but my experience with the river has awakened in me a sense of personal upliftment and self-confidence. My feeling of being content since a couple of years has reached new heights and my hope to achieve the goals I have put for myself became more ardent. I was so filled with positive energy that I thought for a moment that I have conquered all my enemies and am not far from the ultimate victory I have been seeking.
At first we (myself and a friend from IIT Delhi who accompanied me) went to seven-storeyed Bharathmata Temple where, the deities Shiva, Vishnu, Shakthi occupy the top three storeys. The fourth floor is dedicated to the great Saints of India, third to Mothers & Pativratas and the second to the freedom fighters & great leaders. The first floor is arranged with oil paintings depicting the customs and traditions of all the states of India. Here, we can have a feel of how diverse India is in respect to religions, tribes, cultures etc. In the ground-floor, clad in a lustrous-purple, embroidered Benares Silk is a beautiful and intelligent woman: a statue so elegantly representing the personification of a nation of great honor and pride. There is a clay model of the country’s geographic shape with lights arranged at locations of religious prominence. At each floor, we can have a panoramic view of the beauty of Ganges flowing in multiple-streams.
Our next visit was to a temple so arranged that it appears like entering into a cave. At some spots it looks like Kailasa, at some other like Vaikunta. Most impressive were the animated clay statues which depicted some scenes from the  Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha.
We then, went straight to Har Ki Pauri as it was about time that the Ganges will be offered ‘Aarthi’. Reaching at the Har Ki Pauri, in the maddening crowd, we took our ‘dip’ into the Holy Waters. My heart at once was filled with boundless joy, for I had become free from karma, according to the belief that is still strongly held. Now I have the wait for that call which will set me free at once and take me away by all -body, mind and soul. Anyway, then we headed to the spot where the Aarthi was to take place. There were Ganga Temples, Praachin Hanuman Temples and other temples spread all over the place. The Aarthi will be held simultaneously at all these spots with over thousand burning threads. The spectacular event took place for about half hour and later ‘theertha’ was offered. After a fantastic retreat at the Har Ki Pauri, we came straight back to where Aamma and others were staying. We luckily were in time to hear the ‘Hari Kadha’. Right after that we had our dinner and the day closed.
Waking up early next morning, we began our day by taking ablutions in the Holy Ganges yet again. After a tryst with the secrets of the ultimate river, we went straight to the Mansa Devi temple situated near the Har Ki Pauri on a hill. We went by the ‘Udan Khatola’, the rope way, savouring the fantabulous views from differing altitudes. Followed by the darshan, we came back on the rope way and took a rickshaw ride to the Bus Adda. A sardar was shouting ‘Patiala-Ambala’. We got into it and straight to Ambala. At Ambala we caught a bus to Kurukshethra, Haryana.
Getting down at the Pipli Bus Stand, we took a local bus till Jyotisar. This place is the original location where the Lord in His avatara as Krishna, taught Arjuna the most sacred lesson of Bhagavad Gita. An old Banyan Tree stands there. A board says: “Immortal Banyan Tree: The Only Witness of the Holy Song of Gita”. I figured out, it must be atleast 6000 years old to be credited with such a glory. There are marble statues and statues of plaster of Paris portraying the eternal scene between Krishna and Arjuna. An ancient Shiva mandir is situated in close proximity to the site. A modest lake with wild vegetation (including Lotus plants), welcoming a multitude of avian visitors from far-off lands, decors the surroundings. Marble stones, with significant verses from the Holy Text printed on them, adorn the walls around the place. Temples of Gita Mandir, Goddess Saraswathi, Vyasa, Hanuman, Durga are added attractions.
We next halted at the Baan-Ganga (Narkathari Village), where Bhishma supposedly fell on the bed of arrows skillfully manufactured by the ace-archer Arjuna. A tall Hanuman statue (perhaps about 300 feet or much above) blessing us with the right arm and holding the mighty club in the left stands magnificently. An ancient temple is situated by the side. At the centre is a pond, where we saw local children competing in swimming and dipping exercises. We then went straight to the Krishna Museum, but unfortunately it was Monday, a holiday. So, a little disappointed we went to the Brahmasarovar, a vast lake where people come in huge numbers to take bath during Solar Eclipse. It is said that, Sri Rama with Sita, used to come to Kurukshetra to take bath in one of the many lakes that garner this holy place during solar eclipses. Even Muslim rulers like Shah Jahan, Jahan Gir came to this place during solar eclipse to take a dip. A Shiva temple lies at the banks of the lake. With all this spiritual exercises, my first trip concluded.
My second trip was to IIT Roorky where my friend Venu was doing his PG. We, along with a couple of other friends, went to Rishikesh the same day I arrived at Roorky. Rishikesh was a rare combination of spirituality, adventure and sport. Situated at the foot of the hills which nest the NeelKanth Swamy Temple, it is characterized with beauty all over. Things of interest here were: Hanuman Temple, Laxman Jhula, Ram Jhula and four ancient temples including one of the great emperor Bharatha after whom this country got its name Bhaarath. Adventures and sports here include: Rafting and Kayaking on the speeding Ganges. Life becomes more meaningful when spiritual exercises are realized along with adventure and sport to recreate the ever-stressed mind. Coming back to Roorky, we rested that evening.
Next morning we started off to Dehradun. It was past noon when we reached the city, 605 meters above sea-level. Understanding it was difficult to go Shimla from here, within the stipulated time we had in our hands, we decided to waste away at Mussorie instead. Located at 2005 meters ASL, Mussorie proved to be a great hang-out. The journey along the topsy-turvy crooked curves of the road gave us a superb feeling, more exciting than a roller-coaster ride. We spent the night in Hotel Saraswathi, as we no longer were in a position to stroll around after the grueling journey. Next morning we kicked out our warm rugs and moved ahead to the Kempty Falls, about 12 km from the Hill City Mussorie. The water falls kept their promise fulfilled as we came to know. Spending over an hour at the highest point reachable at the falls, we came back to Mussorie. Again, from Mussorie to Dehradun and from there to Roorky. Next morning I came back to Karnal (Haryana) after a wondrous time at the Ghats and Waters.
Many times during these encounters with Ganga and the Shivalik Mountain Ranges, and when I thought of seeing Himalayas but couldn’t, I recited to myself from the following lines from Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening’:
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.

 
P.Siddartha
(July 6, 2004)

Sunday, July 25, 2004

My Hero

 
A gentleman, never been called so,
Who, in his own style, tried to show
The world the way it has to know
That individualism must stay and grow.

A philosopher of unusual tempo
Whose ideas he himself drove
To endless heights without slow
From existing standards disdainfully low.

A saunterer from the holy-lands of snow                  

Without pointing his finger or raising his brow       
At the downward speed of mankind’s flow
Remained aloof, having attained divine glow.

A gentleman, never been called so,
A philosopher of unusual tempo
A saunterer from the holy-lands of snow
My hero, Henry David Thoreau
.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Sonnet to River Ganga

 
Holy water so cold and pure
Rending our hearts infinite cure
Flow ever in the land of Gods
Make rich us, prosper our abodes;
With you bring us the Divine Light
With you take us to highest height
Where white-caps of snow lay pristine
Where great winds pious and benign
Touch us with ardor of Fathers
Sitting in couches of lathers
Device the plans for human life
Of bliss, sorrow; Of wealth and strife;
Gift us with minds of intellect

Bless us to become more perfect