It all started with a wish to visit ,Badrinath a holy town in Chamoli district of the state of Uttarakhand, India. The holy place of Badrinath, is named after the holiest temple of Badrinath or Badrinarayan .The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is among the most important pilgrimage site of the four char Dham sites for Sanatan Dharamis. To reach there one has to got throught the Joshimath or Jyotirmath town. My below diary entry is from my travel experience at Joshimath- “The Gateway to Badrinath Dham”, while en-route to reach Badrinath Dham.
After finishing off with my Solo Trek to the Roopkund Lake ( To read on my trekking experience of the Roopkund lake trek, Please click here). I was left with some extra days to spend, in the Dev Bhoomi. So I decided on to have a pilgrimage trip to Badrinath Dham. Our taxi driver who was ferrying us back to Haridwar from Loharjung village, dropped me at Rudra Prayag bus stop. The bus stop was nearly vacant and no person could be seen. And I being a newbie, apart from the name of my destination town, I had no knowledge on how to reach there. I was totally on a blind trip
Few people whom I meet at the Rudra Prayag taxi stand, advised me to reach Srinagar(U.K) then hop on to another shared vehicle to reach Joshimath. And if I would be lucky, from there I can get another shared taxi so as to reach Badrinath. And he confidently said it will take you max 5 hours of journey till Badrinath. I took his words and ventured ahead. Only to find that expected journey hours of 5-6 hours to reach Badrinath, would turned out for me a long 2 days and a night journey. In these 2 days of adventurous ordeal, all sort of unexpected turn of events, happened with me. Some were good and some bad. Right from, not able to find a good hotel room, to lodging inside a gloomy dormitory’s bunk beds, infested with bed bugs. And thereafter eating away after ever I could scramble during the late night stay at Joshimath, eating at roadside eatery and finally hitch hiking on Army trucks to reach Badrinath Dham. My travel plans went haywire with full of twists and dizzying turns. But I endured and kept myself dragging. Only thing that encouraged me to get goings were my Parent’s words:-
“Every pain and sufferings you experience while on a pilgrimage, brings you a step closer to Almighty. It’s a test ,which one has to pass and cannot be escaped. Submit yourself under the feet of God and focus only on the purpose ,not on the journey. The pain will eventually get subdued” .
So here my travel experience right from my Travel Diary
DAY – I : Rudra Prayag to Joshimath
Taxi stopped I alighted and bid a bye to my travel partners at Rudra Prayag and went straight to the bus stop. I walked across the iron bridge over the confluence of river Alaknanda and river Mandakini . Waited for nearly an hour at the bus stop, which i could not get. In order to save time, I boarded a shared local taxi which took me to the district capital town of Chamoli main town. It took me some 2 hours to reach Chamoli and after having a good breakfast I hopped on to another shared taxi from the Chamoli town that would take me to Pipalkothi town .
My taxi was taking halt on every nooks and every corner, just to find more passengers to fill up few of his empty seats. It was a harassing experience of travelling for 3 hours and to finally reach Pipalkoti. The route has been back breaking experience. There was still time, for the sun to set. And I had to force myself to undertake, a yet another taxi ride to reach my next big town, Joshimath. Hail Badri Maharaj !!
I reached Joshimath in another 1.5 hours and alight at Joshimath. Though way ahead Badrinath town was just another 3 hours journey from Joshimath, The roads got closed and all vehicular exit was halted at Joshimath. I came to know that there in the hills all vehicular movement are restricted after 4pm and no vehicles except the Army convey are allowed beyond that till next day 5am. Seeing everyone already left the Joshimath taxi stand I thought of no point in staying put. I began searching for a decent lodge for spending my night.
Pic credit : Krishna Priya
My body was aching (sharir ke sare purzze purzze hil gaye) and so I was desperately needed to take rest. I futilely searched for a decent lodge for the next another hour. It seemed all hotels and lodges had got already booked and with the evening Sun setting fast I tried my luck in a Dormitory. I finally found a good enough dormitory to settle my aching back. The dormitory charged me Rs 150. The hall where my dorm was having a huge hall with 16 beds arranged in a neat parallel fashion. Seven beds were already occupied by military personnel who could be seen sleeping in their deep slumber on to the far left corners beds of the hall . Leaving me, two other were, few old man in a monk attire. After taking few hour of rest, I went out to have tea and snacks. I was Damn hungry.
Jyotirmath .Pic Credit Ajay Bhatt : https://www.euttaranchal.com/
It may have gone past 8pm and nothing to do I brought out my travel diary so as to pen down my day’s back paining travel experience. I was deeply into my own thoughts when I felt someone’s presence, behind me. I turned around and got startled to find one of the old man with an shiny white long beard and with an calming smile, was peeping into my travel diary. Looking down on my diary he was trying to read from my diary, murmuring with a heavy Hinglish(Hindi-English) accent. Since he was not bothering me, I decided to leave him reading from my diary. It was during each pause while I was scrambling for a word to describe my thought I looked up towards him. Each time he stood up and gave back a sweet smile on his face. It must have happened 2-3 times and I felt an urge to ask him for this amusing behavior. So I closed my Travel diary diary. And I humbly asked him for his amusing behavior. He didn’t say anything and was just nodding his head. Finally after few more try he answered me with a mix accent of hindi and Pahadi language. We started with monologue and I was experiencing difficulty to fully understand hissentences. We began with sharing our travel experience. How we reached Joshimath and how the day unfolded.
We continued with our chat and he then asked me
from where do belong to.He went mute for some minutes. Bantering further ,I came to know that he is a local from chamoli district and has never ever ventured outside of Uttrakhand state. But ,interestingly by his intelligent talks he seemed to me quite a knowledgeable man. With every words that he spoke of he gave all credit of his knowledge to his Guru (pointing a finger towards a big fat old guy fast asleep snoring two bed away from us ). Upon asking for other qualities of his Guruji,he said his Guruji is a well traveled person and knows 5-6 Indian languages. It is he who imparted him knowledge, humility and awareness about whole countryand it’s people. His grip on Tamil language was fabulous( I could only guess with few Tamil words that I know). Barely literate, never traveled outside his own home state i,e Uttarakhand ,this man surprisingly possessed immense knowledge about India and its cultural tradition. Marvelous !
Our conversation went on rolling . He told me many things about his Guru and his many good things that he did for him right from raising him from his childhood days when he was an orphan kid and making him the person what he is now .When I curiously asked about his small adventures he narrated about his travel experience of Chota Charm Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. How he tailed his Guru days and night and how i some days without any food or shelter they used to struggle getting to their next destinations. For him everyday was a new adventure and every day is a new learning . How true was that !!
Our amazing conversation did not limit there .We discussed further on the topics of current Indian politics, weather, road conditions and even topics on cricket were not spared . Quite an amazingly interesting and knowledgeable personality I meet, He was so soft spoken and humble with his sweet words, it kept me glued to his conversation. We might have not finished with our amazing intersting conversations, if his guruji might not have called upon him for some help that he needed. Finally before asking for an excuse, he advised me to pay a visit to Narsingh Temple in Joshimath . As per his advise it’s a must visit temple before moving onward for Badrinath Temple. For It is said that when Badrinath temple closes during winter every year, one idol of Lord Badri is brought down to the Narsingh temple. It is here where Lord is worshiped for six month.
Since, as per my plan next day, I had to catch a taxi early morning for Badrinath. I thought, If I do not go out to visit the temple of Narsingh , I won’t make it while returning and may miss out something in my travel. So I went out and somehow I ws able to find my way down the alleys of Joshimath’s main market area to reach the Narsingh Temple .The temple seemed to be bit prehistoric,with some of the temple complex might be aged more than 1000 years old .Not a big temple complex though but numerous smaller temples for various deities can be seen .The aarti at the temple touched me .While sitting on the temple porch watching the evening aarti I was thinking how eventful and wonderful was my today’s travel experience .
I may not have visited temple if I would not have meet the guy in my dormitory. And here, sitting on the porch of the temple ,I got intrigued with my own question – was it destined ? Do Lord has some reason or impact to leave on me via some unknown people or is it that some unfulfilled purpose of mine was meet here. The answers which God may only know.
My believe on my Lord got stronger tonight, . It would not have been possible without his holy blessing, that I would have reached Joshimath and would not have an adventure Solo traveling and meeting so nice people enroute. Contrary to this, I might have returned with my friends to Haridwar and may not got bestowed by the blessing of Lord Narsingh .
Hoping ,few more surprises are still there for me ,ready to be unfolded, I curled inside my warm and cushiony quilt on my now comfortable dormitory bed.
I soon slept away .It was by far the most peaceful night I have experienced after a long time.