Some experiences can be articulated only by the inaudible language of the heart – those experiences which make life worth living……………….
Yet, I make an attempt to document such an experience in its entirety here so that it is never lost……
The very prospect of visiting a foreign country seemed alluring enough for us to wave a green signal to the idea when our mom propped up the question : “how abt a trip to Muktinath??”.
What followed next remains an enigma to me, even to this day. I call it an enigma ‘cuz the trip was totally unanticipated and unplanned: it all happened in the blink of an eye: the idea was proposed on Monday, e-mails and phone calls were exchanged on Tuesday, plans to go to Nepal were confirmed on Wednesday and wewere at the airport on Thursday!!!!
After endless hours of waiting at the Chennai airport and the international lounge of the Delhi airport, we reached Kathmandu on Friday morning. The transit from the international to the domestic airport located at a distance of about 1 km cost us rs.200 (IC) in a dilapidated car with its only recognizable part being the name plate!!!!!! As soon as we stepped down from the “vintage” car, we were surrounded by an array of porters offering to carry our luggage in a trolley for a fee of rs.100 (the trolleys were not available free of cost!!).
According to our “ephemeral” itinerary, we had to catch a flight to Janakpur, next.
Janakpur has a rich history associated with it. The Swayamwaram of Ram and Sita took place here. There is a “sita vivah mandap” where the marriage scene is depicted completely along with the guests who attended the wedding. Outside the mandap there are 4 quarters (term used by the priest there) for the 4 brothers and their consorts. The “sita mahal” lies in the vicinity and is equally captivating both in its significance and in its architectural splendor. This place also has the Ram mandir and a hanuman temple called “sankat vimochan” ( as the name itself suggests , this place is believed to free us from all our troubles)
Situated at 20 Km from Janakpur is another place called Dhanushdam. When Ram broke the bow to win Sita’s hands, the bow split into 3 parts. One reached the swarkalok, one reached the paadalam and the third part fell on the earth at this place. The ground here is a conglomeration of what resembles “rudraksham” and follows a strange pattern of an arrow. There is a 500 year old peepul tree here with a source of water at its base. It is believed that calamity will strike the country if water here dries up. The last time water dried up here was when the family of Nepal king was killed. It is also also believed that if the pattern of arrow is completely formed by the conglomeration, the world will come to an end!!!
After a fulfilling visit to all these places, we stayed overnight in Janakpur and caught a flight back to Kathmandu. With a few more hours to spare before the next flight to Pokhara, we decided to pay a visit to the Jal-narayan temple there. The temple enshrines a breath-taking, life-sized statue of lord Narayan lying on a water bed.
The next destination was Pokhara. The weather here was a welcome relief from the heat of Kathmandu. There is a lake here called the Phewa Lake where we went boating that evening. (My brother tried rowing the boat all by himself only to realize that it was such a hard task!!!It left him drained of all energy though his ego wouldn’t permit him to accept that!!).As our flight to Jomsom was on the next day, we stayed that night in Pokhara.
The Jomsom airport is considered to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world. The plane travels in a gorge and “visibility” is an important criterion (“lack of wind” is another). The planes fly only between 6-8AM to this place beyond which it is considered dangerous. (it is advisable to catch the first flight to Jomsom as the other flights are simply not reliable).
Jomsom is a picturesque hamlet with a fluctuating weather. We checked into a hotel called “Moonlight” and prepared ourselves to visit the “Muktinath temple”, which was the very purpose of our entire journey.
There is no single mode of transport to reach the place (of course, trekking is an option for people who are physically fit, but for us, hmm, it was out of question (lol)). We commuted to a bridge which hangs over the Gandaki River in a jeep, then walked for about a Km and then took yet another jeep to travel through the rocky terrain. This journey took us about 2 hrs and was a really bumpy one esp. because of the poor condition of the jeep (most of the vehicles here are on the verge of falling apart anytime!!). This was followed by trekking (a short path) after which we rode a bike to reach the foot of the temple.
Located in the picturesque backdrop of the Himalayas, Muktinath is considered to be a sacred shrine for the vaishnavites (it is one of the 108 divyadesams). Here, we bathed in the 108 spouts of water and then took a dip in each of the 2 ponds to cleanse ourselves of our sins (the ponds are called the “papa” kundam and the “punya” kundam). This was followed by a delightful darshan of the lord .
After this, we retreated to our hotel rooms.
If our journey up to this point seemed like a religiously oriented one, what followed next was far from it.
Marpha is a small village close to Jomsom and is also called the Apple capital of Nepal. A casual stroll in the evening through this village, abundant with apple trees was exhilarating. It was windy and the air felt almost pure. The houses here were built out of jus bricks and sand (no cement!!) and the roof-top corners were decorated with wood (/stones).It was a blissful experience which rejuvenated us (in fact , I’m still basking in those momentsJ)
We stayed in Jomsom for 2 days, relishing its cold before flying back to Kathmandu. From Kathmandu it was back to Delhi and then Chennai …..
It was a fantabulous holiday: a strange mix of religion and pleasure, a combination which seemed impossible to me until this trip was realized. It has left a deep impact in my mind and has filled me with a sense of contentment. which is hard to explain. I had always believed in God as being a positive force, it was for the first time that I ever felt this force ……….