One of the most amazing trips to self discovery are the trips that you take without any rhyme or reason and just keep wandering and walking across the horizon! But once every while comes a trip that you have to take… The aboriginal walk if I may say so… Such trips have a way of shaping themselves within their journeys and make for one of the most enchanting experiences of your life. Some spiritually enlightning, some full of incidents that open your mind to new dimensions and some full of introspective self provocating thoughts that keep you wondering, how far you’ve traveled on this road, a journey that you began years ago and where you are right now.
One such trip I took about six months ago. It was when I decided to celebrate the death anniversary and perform rites of my departed father along the banks of River Ganga in the most revered destinations across the country. The holy land of ganges! While I did that I also had some time to follow my passion for travel and come back with stories of the land of enchanted. My trip started off with Banaras and my first ritual was at Kashi, then at Gaya and finally at Prayaag.
The land of Varanasi (Kashi) has been the ultimate pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Often referred to as Benares, Varanasi is the oldest living city in the world. These few lines by Mark Twain say it all: “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Varanasi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Abode of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the origins of Varanasi are yet unknown. Ganges in Varanasi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals. (Varanasicity.com)
Ganges is said to have its origins in the tresses of Lord Shiva and in Varanasi, it expands to the mighty river that we know of. The city is a center of learning and civilization for over 3000 years. With Sarnath, the place where Buddha preached his first sermon after enlightenment, just 10 km away, Varanasi has been a symbol of Hindu renaissance. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished here for centuries. Also a pilgrimage place for Jains, Varanasi is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.
Some pictures from my journey in Kashi/Banaras:
Next up was the second ritual at Gaya. Gaya is 100 kilometers south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. Situated on the banks of the Phalgu (or Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by the Hindu, the Buddhist and the Jain religions. It is surrounded by small rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila and Brahmayoni) by three sides and the river flowing on the fourth (eastern) side. The city has a mix of natural surroundings, age old buildings and narrow bylanes. Since I was there only for a day or two, we couldn’t explore a lot of it, but we made it a point that Bodh Gaya was visited.
Some pictures from Gaya:
The final stop on this journey was Allahabad, yes the most famous of all! Prayaag and Triveni sangam was the place where we did the final rituals. As enchanting as it may look, it has great facets of its old Hindu and Indian culture that still is integral part of Prayaag. The city’s original name—Prayaga, or “place of sacrifice”—comes from its position at the sacred union of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. It is the second-oldest city in India and plays a central role in the Hindu scriptures. The city contains many temples and palaces. Allahabad is located on in the southern part of Uttar Pradesh. It is bounded by Pratapgarh in the north, Bhadohi in the east, Rewa in the south and Kaushambi in the west.
Some pictures from Allahabad/Prayaag:
This trip was certainly quite memorable because of the root cause but also overall the journey to the three spiritual destinations across North India was something that gave it a deft touch a touch of a journey unknown and yet beautifully spiralled into something more meaningful.