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Himalayan Memories----1

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dawn at Simla

Hotel Gitanjali at Dalhousie

Monkey Point at Dawn in Kasauli

The Sunlight playing on the snow capped Peaks

Snow capped Himalayan Peaks from Dalhousie
The Himalayas and their Foot Hills have been an integral part of my childhood---I grew up with them keeping watch over me!!!They became my first Confidants---and I spoke to the distant,hazy Purply Blue Hills each time I had something to share---and trust me that was every single day!!!During my childhood I've taken many Summer and Winter Treks on the zig zag Footpaths that ran along the steep slopes of these Foot Hills---with my father and Jeanneret Uncle for company----at one with the rugged terrain and it's people.We'd climb up to a ruined Mint that had been used for minting Coins in the early 1800s--for the Court of the legendary Sikh Monarch--Maharaja Ranjit Singh.At the foot of the Mint was a shallow Brook---tumbling over the rocky pebbles with a cheerful babble.The water used to be crystal clear and very cold---I loved the taste of it!!!We'd lie in the shade of the Trees lining the banks of the Brook----and I'd dream of what life was like here in the distant past.For me it was satisfying Contentment---to lie back with my eyes closed--- listening to the sounds of the Bees droning,the Water gurgling and the scented Forest around us--the perfume of the Wild Flowers wafting on the cool Breeze whispering in the Pines and stirring the Grass on which I lay.It was sheer Magic and I was very lucky to experience it.If we were very lucky we'd hear the notes of a Bamboo Flute played by a Shepherd in the distance as he tended his Sheep along the Mountain Pastures.
I have seen the Hills in their most beautiful moments---when the setting Sun set their snowy slopes afire in the Winter---and when the beautiful Fairy like Street Lights glistened like so many Fire flies on the hazy slopes on Moonless Nights---seemingly hanging in Space between Heaven and Earth!!The Rosy glow pof early Dawn picking up the Glass panes of a myriad Windows on the Mountain sides--the delicate fingers of early Sunlight glinting and winking like a million Diamonds on the slopes.The beautiful wooded Mall Roads of Kasauli and Simla----and the beautiful Cottages lining small winding Pathways---and yes the Ghosts and the Ghost stories---all brought the Mountains alive for me!!For me the Mountains held a mystical allure--something deep inside responded to them in a primeval manner!!
The Hills were the first to know when Sudhir proposed to me---and the first to be told when I found out that I'd fallen in love with him!!!After I shifted to Bombay as Mumbai was then called--I could hear their Siren call in my heart---and I'd insist on going there for the Summer Vacation at least---for the pull of the mystical connection was very magnetic and strong.In November 1973 my parents left for Mauritius where my father had been sent on deputation by Mrs.Indira Gandhi---our Prime Minister then--on a request by name for him by Sir Ram Goolam, the first Prime Minister of Mauritius.My father died suddenly on October 15, 1974 and my tie with my childhood snapped!!For awhile after that I did not come back---and the call of the Hills just brought an ache to my heart each time I thought of them.For me the Mountains were human and my most treasured memory of them is a beautiful cold night in Winter---when the Mountains were etched on a silvery Moonlit Canvas twinkling with a million Lights from the distant City---laid out like a carpet of Stars on their slopes!!!
After that I did not visit my beloved mountains till December 1979----when we took our daughters to Simla---once the Summer Capital of India--and managed to stay in the same Suite in hotel Oberoi Clarkes---the Suite where we'd spent our Honeymoon in October 1970!!!I was delirious with joy at breathing in the magical Air of the Mountains---for me that means a heady mixture of many things---primary being the musky scent of the "Deodars" as the Evergreens are called in Hindi.Sudhir and I watched the Winter Sunset from our Window overlooking a steep drop---and as the night closed in on us sat close to each other on the Couch--absorbing every nuance of the Sunset and the Nightfall.It was after 1983 that we again began visiting the Mountains every Summer---Simla,Nainital,Dharamshala,Dalhou
sie,Jammu,the Kashmir Valley---and also going higher up to the upper reaches of the Himalayas---the source of the Rivers Ganges(Ganga),Jamuna and the beautiful Temples of Lord Shiva at Kedarnath and Lord Vishnu at Badrinath in May 1987.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOVEY63 2/18/2012 9:02PM

    What beautiful scenery to go along with such wonderful memories.

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NITAINMN 2/18/2012 4:41PM

    You are so fortunate to have been able to see, breathe and live around the Himalayas! I am envious of you, Komal. emoticon

For, I have not even been able to visit and can do no more being unable to fly. Beautiful description of everything and photos too, in spite of the fact that its nothing like a personal visit to the Himalayas. I hav always fancied them, even drawn them in my art work, rangoli art that won a first prize by Lions' Club in India, during my college years!

Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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RIDMYCOCOON 2/18/2012 12:36PM

    Your memories are extraordinary to absorb. They are really amazing. I feel like I am there. Your connection with smells is vital to the story and I am thrilled at the imagination it gives me to read. So sweet and sensitive. I can't wait to read anything you write.

I understand the connection to the mountains. I have had that with some that I grew up around. I felt like they were these great human giants laying on their side. Gentle and ever listening. Protecting me. How magnificent yours are and have been. Always.

Thank you

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Friday, February 17, 2012

That entire Week was charmed.In a tiny little Town there was nothing to do but soak in the Blessed Peace the place exuded and enjoy the small hikes we took around the Town----traversing it's steep streets.For anyone who's travelled to the remote reaches of India's State of Himachal Pradesh the natural Beauty and the ambience of the area work like a balm to one's soul.Sudhir and I were accompanied by our younger daughter Sayali,her best friend Lakshmi and my sister Ritu----and all three of them gorged themselves silly on the fabulous Cuisine at Hotel Shrikhand.For me it was a dream come true---I reread "Kim" once more and paid my dues to something that I'd wanted for so very long!!!
It is difficult to describe the physical loveliness of the place.One cannot define the scents or the scented gusts----the mixed scent of Hay,Flowers,Spruce and Fir Forests,Apple Blossoms,dusty Earth and flowing Water made up most of it---but there was some indefinable in there too---maybe the Incense offered at the Temple perhaps?My Amma used to burn a typical Incense of the region that they simply called "Dhoop".It was a mix of various Herbs and Condiments mixed with Ghee and had a sticky texture to it----for me that scent embodies my childhood---for rather than spend time in my own room I was mostly with Amma!!!At that time Sudhir and I had already become Grand parents---but to me it was one of my most romantic trips to date---one could call it a second Honeymoon----despite the company!!!!Both of us literally spent hours on the Balcony at night--cuddled up in a thick quilt---just gazing out at the Starlight drenched view---there are no words to describe the snow capped Peaks outlined against the Sky----the chill Breezes wafting around,the cry of a Pheasant on the Air---and the perfect stillness of Silence!!One is a part of an Infinity that is unchanged since times immemorial!!
I cried the day we left---for though such a perilous Journey could be done again but I knew it was not for us---today I can never go back there again---not without Sudhir---but I'm glad I have this beautiful one week of Magic to look back on---and the Peace it still gives me!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NITAINMN 2/18/2012 4:46PM

    I am surprised at your memory, Komal! Its like you were there just yesterday.....impressive. Reading your blog, I feel like being there myself. Thanks for the details of a place I could never visti any more! emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 2/18/2012 7:12AM

    Your writing unfolds the beauty right into my mind. I hope that sometime in my life I can go there and experience it myself, but your bring it to life so nicely.

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    I've now added another place on my list. Thanks,Janet

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BOVEY63 2/17/2012 11:32PM

    So happy you are finding peace in the beautiful memories with Sudhir.

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RIDMYCOCOON 2/17/2012 11:27PM

    Incredibly beautiful. How profound. I feel like I can sense and smell it's wonders when I read your words. So honest and true. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Like a romantic fairytale.

What is "Kim"?

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VALERIEMAHA 2/17/2012 11:22PM

    Simply amazing.

Once again,

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Friday, February 17, 2012

As a child one of my favourite books was Rudyard Kipling's "Kim"---it still remains very close to my heart.Around the same period I read about the beautiful Sarahan Valley barely 30 miles from the Tibetan Border---and it's beautiful Orchards and breathtaking Himalayan Views---and I made a promise to myself that someday I'd go there.I had to wait till May, 1996 to visit this beautiful place---and that remains a treasured memory to this day.
The Legend of Bhimakali fascinated me.The Goddess was discovered by a Bengali Saint named Bhimagiri----who was a devotee of both Lord Shiva and his Consort Devi Shakti.This Saint was in the area when the Staff he carried buried itself deep in the Earth at this location.That night the Goddess instructed Bhimagiri in a Dream to dig into the Earth at the Site and establish Her in a Temple dedicated to Her on the sacred Site.On digging the site they found a beautiful Gold Idol of the Goddess and Bhimagiri set up a tiny Temple dedicated to her at the Site.After Bhimagiri's death some people --including the Raja(King) of Bushahr---tried to build a Temple elsewhere but Legend has it that all the Construction materials would mysteriously disappear from the new spot and end up at the old one.Finally the people understood the Message and a very beautiful Stone and Wood Temple was built for the Goddess named "Bhimakali" because She was discovered by the Saint Bhimagiri.
My curiosity about Sarahan peaked further when my old Nanny whom I called Amma came to meet us.She had left us after a heartrending farewell to look after her sick father when I was 13 years old----and would visit us occasionally whenever she could.After her father died about 3 years later we had all grown up and didn't need a Nanny so she had taken up employment as a Nanny with the King Of Bushahr's younger brother for his sons.It was in 1970 that she stayed with us for some time before I got married---that was when she regaled the three of us--Mikki,Ritu and me---about the breathtaking beauty of the spectacular Valley----and as far as I was concerned--the die was cast!!
For me it was a magical moment when I set foot in the Valley---and Hotel Shrikhand---breathing the scented Himalayan Air redolent with an undefinable Perfume made me feel heady with Joy--I had finally made it to Sarahan!!!Paying my obeisance to The Goddess was another high---I made it a point to visit Her every morning and evening during that beautiful Week we were there.That was a truly magical Summer for me---Sudhir and I would sit out on the Balcony every night---gazing out at the Velvety night Sky spangled with Stars---hanging so low that I felt that if we wanted we could just stretch out our hands and pluck them!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NITAINMN 2/18/2012 4:57PM

    Fantastic memory and beautiful writing Komal....you must simply MUST put in an order in a book or get a ghost writer to do the job already written by you, have them edit and publish! These are memoirs of yours, some of which could not even be seen once more in today's India.

I have a made a point to read this book by borrowing from our Library written by Kipling with Punkaj Mishra. I also recommend you to read ( though, a sad story but, for the scenery depicted in there) The Inheritence of Loss by Kiran Desai ( Anita Desai's daughter), if you haven't already read. emoticon

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    Always be a dreamer, Komal. It brings life to your words.

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BOVEY63 2/17/2012 11:30PM

    What a fascinating story.

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VALERIEMAHA 2/17/2012 12:07PM

    Love the story. Appreciate your writing skills.

"Paying my obeisance to The Goddess was another high---I made it a point to visit Her every morning and evening during that beautiful Week we were there.That was a truly magical Summer for me---Sudhir and I would sit out on the Balcony every night---gazing out at the Velvety night Sky spangled with Stars---hanging so low that I felt that if we wanted we could just stretch out our hands and pluck them!!!"

Such a gift...the journey for you and Sudhir...and the sharing of it for us!

Comment edited on: 2/17/2012 12:08:52 PM

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Sarahan----Beautiful Memories!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Mysterious Bhimakali Temple at Sarahan--the Capital of the Bushahr Principality.

Entering the beautiful Sarahan Valley.

The scenically located Hotel Shrikhand

Another View

View from the Balcony of Himalayan Peaks

View of Sarahan Valley

Inside Bhimakali Temple

The Sutlej River in Sarahan Valley

The Raja of Bushahr's Palace

The View of Bhimakali Temple Complex

The dangerous approach to Sarahan Valley

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NITAINMN 2/18/2012 5:00PM

    Awe inspiring pictures....yes, the ride is very scary, especialy with some of these roads simply disppearing in the heavy torrents of rain, only to be re-built after the monsoons, as my brother informs me from one of his visits!

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    I'd love to be on that balcony but maybe not the bus!

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BOVEY63 2/17/2012 11:29PM

    Truly beautiful!

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RIDMYCOCOON 2/17/2012 11:51AM

    You must have had remarkable meetings here. How extraordinary. So beautiful emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 2/17/2012 11:36AM

    Utterly awe-inspiring. I LOVE you sharing these amazing journeys. So tell me, what part of India is this...north, I suppose with that majestic view of the Himalayas. Is it at all close to Rishikesh?

Oh, I think I've found it...in the state of Himachal Pradesh, right? WAY north!

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Divine Commands!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I just happened to see a News Item on my Computer News section this morning----a new Temple approximately 1700 years old was discovered by a boy in the North Eastern State of Assam.The Site of the Temple was revealed to the boy in a dream!!!This is a common phenomenon in India---many people have dreamt of such things and have found such Sites at the indicated Spots---by following the given Instructions.Stories of many such discoveries abound and many of those Temples found thus are centres of Pilgrimage today.One such extremely beautiful Ancient Temple I've visited is at Sarahan in the lofty Himalayas---just 30 miles from Tibet----the Temple of Goddess Bhadrakali--the patron of the Royal family of Bushair.
This boy claims that he had a dream---an old lady appeared in his dream and led him to a Cave on the banks of the River Brahmaputra and asked him to clean up the Cave Temple and worship there.The next morning he informed his mother about it and the two of them followed the instructed route to an actual Cave on the Banks of the River!!They cleaned up the Cave and set up the scattered Idols of various Dieties on a ledge that they presumed was the Altar.The ASI--Archeological Survey of India was duly informed and they have listed it as being approximately 1700 years old---based on the Inscription carved on a wall in the Cave.The exact date will be revealed after a detailed Study they say.Not just that,they will now scour the Site to find out if there are any more Cave temples or Archeological Sites in the peripheral region to establish it's Historic importance.
I firmly believe that God has various means to manifest His Existence---and call Him by any name---He always responds!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOVEY63 2/15/2012 1:45PM

    How amazing and awesome! Thanks for sharing this information.

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VALERIEMAHA 2/15/2012 7:55AM

    Call Him by any name!!!

Om Namah Shivayah

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PUDLECRAZY 2/15/2012 4:08AM


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XXMILAXX 2/15/2012 4:00AM

    That's amazing!

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    Whenever you post it is more proof you were still meant to be here to tell us your stories!
Mysterious ways indeed.

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NITAINMN 2/14/2012 9:40PM

    How nice...I truly believe in these dreams myself, Komal. That is what my book will be based on - how I got guidance to grow spiritually by His Grace! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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