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Driving challenges in Dehradun

On August 16, 2014, it was sunny when we left Rishikesh for Nauti, the starting point of Nanda Raj Jat, in a jeep around 9:00 am. But landslides due to downpour on the previous day blocked the two routes we tried before taking the third route. It took one and a half days to complete this drive of about 200 kilometers. Here is a brief overview of the three routes

Room No 101 in GMVN Rahi Motel, Haridwar

On September 8, 2014, when I checked in previously booked economy room (INR 660 per person, per night) in Rahi Motel by GMVN in Haridwar, I was disappointed. So I upgraded to the next level of room by paying INR 521 more. Room However, the upgraded room (no 101) was another space in disrepair. The window mesh partly protected against mosquitos but it was wrapped in soot. Lower part of

Pilgrims walk from Sem to Koti.

She followed unabridged faith in the pilgrimage. She lived with the bare essentials, and walked barefoot, and left the head uncovered. A small colorful shoulder bag complacently set on her head through the entire pilgrimage barring a few occasions when I saw her without the bag. The bag sometimes also doubled as a shade. The salt and pepper hairs flowing from her head to her chest protected her from the

Logo of Nanda Raj Jat 2014

End of Reliving the Tradition September 7, 2014 Sunday Despite a weekend, the temple suddenly lost its charm. The crowd thinned out. Puja dominated the weak trances. Energy levels of the people who went into trances in the beginning of the pilgrimage fell drastically. Enthusiasm dried up and sadness creeped in subtly.  The number of pilgrims was small. Local people who could not join the pilgrimage were more in number.

The drummers lead the women carrying offerings on their heads to the temple.

Missing Momentum of the First Day September 6, 2014 Saturday Poor presence of pilgrims produced emptiness that highlighted the lush landscape of Nauti and other aspects of the event. The sky was the same and was a sport like the first day of the pilgrimage. But on the penultimate day of the pilgrimage, Shri Sidhpeeth Nanda Devi Temple in Nauti received a small size of visitors. The number of professional

The dance drama continues on the 20th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014.

September 5, 2014 Friday Friendly weather favored us once more. But jeep drivers did not. They successfully demanded INR 200 per person for a short shared jeep ride of thirty minutes from Sutol to Ghat. Deities and all the pilgrims continued their return journeys to respective homes. But I could not experience deities’ return journeys for mismanagement by YJ. My scheduled visit to and a halt at Ghat became a

The folk artists dressed as five Pandav brothers, characters from Mahabharata, present the dance drama on the 19th day of Nanda Raj Jat 2014.

Enthusiasm and Trail Go Downhill September 4, 2014 Thursday The 10-kilometer-long trail connecting Lata Khopadi and Sutol was still miry. But it was bright and the sky was blue. The pilgrims’ mood was a mix of cheer and despair. The thought of going back home safely created cheerful vibes. Separation from the dear daughter cast a shadow over successful completion of the pilgrimage. A number of steep ascents and mire

The 4-horn ram specially selected to lead the Nanda Raj Jat 2014 awaits to be released in wild after the puja.

A Downpour of Anxieties and Affections September 3, 2014 Wednesday Both anxiety and affection were infectious at Shila Saumdra in the morning of the Wednesday. Anxiety ascribed to desire to reach Hom Kund, the goodbye spot at 5,000 meter, at the earliest. Almost everyone, believer and non-believer, had developed an affection for the ram, the goddess, and the trail.  Bidding adieu was therefore an overwhelming experience for many. So everybody

A parasol carrier from Kumaon Himalayas

The Walk in Wilderness that Required Will Power September 2, 2014 Tuesday The Tuesday posed a tough challenge, climbing more than 1,500 meters while walking the 16-kilometer long trail connecting Pathar Nachauniya and Shila Samudra. But the high altitude trail had side attractions that provided perfect escape opportunities for fear (if any) and enough time for pilgrims to rest, rejoice, and proceed safely. The first attraction was one-wall temple. The

Himalayas from Pathar Nachauniya

September 1, 2014 Monday The morning sky was clear for a while. Then it turned grey and a brief spell of drizzle followed. The moody meadow suddenly changed into the costume crafted from the mountain mist that limited the visibility. This transition from a sheer dress to an almost opaque dress checked the speed of the pilgrims but the enthusiasm was on peak.  The rain also tried to play a