Just two and a half hours journey from Joshimath town, the transit point for moving to all the sightseeing places in the Uttarakhand Valleys, my journey to Badrinath Shrine was more than spiritual. It was more of a journey leading to self-revelation.
I started for the shrine one Sunday morning from Joshimath town. The chill was still in the air, as it is always here. At 10000 feet, the temperatures generally require you to keep your woollens on, almost round the year. The zigzag U-bends of the road initially appeared to be moving straight until they gradually started climbing up.
The hills and valleys of Uttarakhand are a real challenge for the newcomers, especially, for those who are high on motion sicknesses or vertigo phobias. The narrow roads have limited spaces for vehicles to cross each other and especially at the U-bends; the honking horns often seem to vanish in the vacuum of the mountains, the approaching vehicles from the either side coming to know only when they suddenly confront each other.
Yet, amidst all this excitement, there is a feeling of ecstasy, the air so pure and the sky so blue; I have never seen skies so clear before, sunlight so golden it embraced me in its hue, and the sound of the silence is the most peaceful sound I can ever hear…
By 09:30 am, I was at the shrine. The crowd was still pouring in. Every year, between May and November, pilgrims from all across India and few from abroad as well, flock the place for a glimpse of this Holy shrine. The spiritual power it holds can only be understood by experiencing it and no amount of words can explain it.
Right behind the shrine, I could see the panoramic view of the majestic ‘Kailash Parbat’ (Mt. Kailash), engulfing the area of the shrine in its arms. The only mountain, which is always covered with snow throughout the year and the snow on it never, melts, even if that on the adjoining mountains can be clearly seen to have shed its snow in the summers.
As I went inside the temple, I could see the pilgrims coming out of the Holy Bath. A natural entity of hot water spring and it is customary to take a dip in the bath before entering the shrine. The water was hot; I felt as if my skin would burn out, but as I let myself go into it, there was an odd feeling. All the tiredness, I had from the journey, just seemed to fade away into the water. I felt my muscles relaxed and the pain in my body going away. What a feeling!!
I came out of the bath and it was time to enter the temple. The stairs ahead of the bath took me up to the shrine. The crowd was just rushing in, and as if a glimpse was not enough for anyone. Such was the divinity of the space around. After I finished paying my obeisance, I sat down in the corridor for some time, just to listen to the jingle of the temple bells. The whole space was filled with the aroma of camphor and incense and the collective energy of all the pilgrims made it a supercharged ball of positive energy. The feeling was beyond explanation.
Contemplated, I came out of the temple. My journey here was complete, though not my revelations. There was something in the air that was asking me to stay back some more time. I will go there once again, no matter how many twists and turns I encounter on the way.