AN EXPERIENCE TO REMEMBER – NANDA DEVI MELA

I got a chance to visit the local Nanda Devi Mela at the village Bhanaj last month during my volunteering with PPC, in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand. Bhanaj, located 3 kms away from our Radio Kendra hosts this mela every 10 -12 years. Me accompanied by the entire team (mostly locals) made our way to experience the community life. An hour later, we made it to the vibrant venue surrounded by hills, clear blue skies, meadows and trees ; Nothing made me believe that this was in some remote part of India.

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The Venue.

The energy of the ground filled with people, children running around, the hustle bustle – suddenly left me feeling like a tourist amused and overwhelmed with the scene playing out in front of my eyes. It was a beautiful sight to see so many people come together and a rare one in this scarcely populated hills!

What I experienced was out of an old mythical book – I was taken back to older times when I heard stories from my grand mom about the ‘”devi” (Goddess) and how people are suddenly possessed by a supreme source and all villagers gather around to seek blessings.

We then decided to go take Darshan in the temple and we heard murmurs of “Devi aa rahi hai” (state of ritual possession – channeling the goddess) and in a few seconds, a woman and a couple of pundits around her were in another trance. They were expressions on their faces of pure bliss, happiness followed by aggression – loud sounds – chants adding to this surreal experience. The villagers mostly women sat around praying and observing. I was intimidated, amused and honestly still out of words to describe the visuals of those few moments.

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The goddess came to bless..

As the goddess came to greet her devotees – the live musicians played the dhol, bagpiper and other instruments; soon this phenomenon was followed by other men and women around us who were now in another state of bliss. They started behaving in similar manner as the previous ones and threw rice at the gathering, jumped, shouted, and yet they were absolutely disconnected from the NOW. The energies and vibrations were something out of the ordinary.

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The musicians

We sat and absorbed our surroundings for a while and it is still hard for me to completely fathom those moments towards these supernatural beliefs and practices around us.

I am glad that I got an opportunity to see, experience and be a part of this Mela and see another part of our country that boasts of many such stories and beliefs.

Have you had any such experiences…would love to hear more about them…

 

 

MY HEAVEN ON EARTH – PANGONG TSO

Leh, Ladakh is every traveller’s dream destination.

It was the same in my case. I consider myself blessed to have been able to travel to this heaven twice.

During my first trip to Leh, I visited Pangong Lake for a day. I remember promising to be back for longer. That place left me speechless and completely awestruck.

One of the main reasons I traveled back to Leh in 2012, was to experience Pangong Tso. This place holds a special space in my heart and I am sure it is the same for many others who have been here.

The most important thing for me while travelling, is to feel a connection with the place that I am visiting. Pangong inspires such a connection without any effort.

On my visit, We left Leh city early in the morning to make sure we got as much time as possible there. As we neared the end of the 6 hr journey, I sat waiting for the first glimpse of the pristine blue still waters, and when I finally got to witness it, the image got etched in my heart and my memories forever.

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First glimpse of Pangong

On reaching Pangong, we dropped our bags at the Whispering Waves Campsite – lovely camps, a view of infinite blue waters and additional services- I could not have asked for more.

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View from the campsite

I spent the day by the water, in complete stillness and bliss – watching the colors of the water change, the sun setting, the mountains and water striking a chord of their own and playing the most soulful tune. The beauty of this place is that it leaves me with an open mind and rejuvenates my soul in a way that no other place does.

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The starry sky and bright moonlight guided me back to the campsite. A hot and freshly made dinner was served. It was the perfect remedy from the cold and chilly weather!

I sat under the starry sky in complete darkness as the lights went off by 10 p.m. The water at the far end and the silence of the mountains left me to find solitude and peace within myself!

There are very few things that motivate me to wake up at 4 am and Pangong is one such thing. I scrambled out of my bed shivering, to catch a glimpse of the early morning hues. I then walked to the water bed and sat with my camera to catch the colors changing from dark grey to green to blue and finally as the sun shone over my head – I saw the lake back in its unparalleled glory. Hope filled my day and heart – and I was happy to be alive; such is the power of nature’s gifts to us.

After an early breakfast we started to head back to Leh. We did the mandatory ‘tourist’ pit stops to capture and absorb as much of the surrounding beauty as we could.

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Finally, with a heavy heart I bid adieu to my paradise…knowing that we would definitely meet again.

So long Pangong, until the next time…

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