Jul 16, 2009

The Great Himalayan Getaway-5

The Glory of Kedarnath
We reached our rooms in Kedarnath at around 4 p.m and after a sumptuous and a much relished meal of aloo parathas and chole bathure we had a bath and then headed towards the temple. The Kedarnath temple lies nestled in a valley between snow clad mountains. Inside the temple complex just at the entrance, a huge Nandi made of stone sits as if guarding the Shivaling. Along with a maddening rush of pilgrims the temple also has a few resident sadhus. With wild eyes and matted hair they were covered with ashes and wore nothing but a small loincloth totally unaffected by the almost arctic cold. It was almost time for the evening Aarti when we entered the main temple. Not everyone is allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum during that time and most of us stood outside next to the statue of Nandi. Spiritually, it was a truly exhilarating experience. The air vibrated with the sounds of conches and cymbals interspersed with cries of Jai Kedar. Standing there in the temple, listening to the invocations surrounded by the pristine beauty of the Himalayas we all felt an indescribable sense of peace.
After the Aarti we decided to buy tickets for the special Pooja but were a little disappointed when we got a time slot of 1 a.m in the morning. We had hoped for a much more reasonable time of 5 am or so. We went back to our rooms and tried valiantly to stay awake till 1 a.m. The cold by then was almost unbearable and inspite of the layers upon layers of woolens that we were wearing we still shivered. At quarter to 1 we left for the temple again.
Walking to the temple in the dead of the night was a very different but a spiritually enriching experience. In the evening the town was a whirlwind of activity. The temple was crowded and the narrow lanes were swarming with pilgrims and sadhus alike. Now there was not a soul in sight and there was a pin drop silence around us. It was a full moon night and the bright moon made the snow glitter as if someone had taken sheets of pure silver and spread it on the mountains. The sky was clear and the stars shone brightly like fireflies behind a backdrop of dark velvet cloth. We walked on in the hushed and silent night, soaking in the peace and quiet. The beauty we saw that night was almost celestial. It filled us with an overwhelming sense of serenity and we felt a close affinity with god.The temple was totally deserted but the inner sanctum was open where the priests were getting ready for the Pooja. There was no one else in the temple except us and the priests. The Shivaling that we could only catch a few glimpses of during the day was decorated with flowers and Chandan. We did Pooja and had Darshan to our hearts content.
After the Pooja we trooped back to our rooms and slept for a few hours. In the morning again after a breakfast of parathas we headed back to Gaurikund, totally uplifted by our spiritual experience.

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