Listed in: Himalaya Journey
Joined Himalaya Journey from 3rd to 12th April 2012.
Step out and just follow your heart... Don't think, just do! This is what I told myself when I booked my very first flight to India last year, at that time initially intending to visit the beautiful Himalayas that I had been dreaming of for years already. But as life is never predictable somehow at last minute my plans turned out to change completely and I found myself stranded in Vrindavan, experiencing the wonderful daily life at Shree Bindu Sewa Sansthan Ashram.
Finding out about the Ashram plans for a Himalaya journey this year made me feel sure that it had just not been the right time for me to go to the mountains last year but that I should definitely take the chance to join the Ashram group this year instead. Moreover I did not have any single concern about the participants as I was convinced that things would come together naturally and nicely, having great people around who just wish to have a good time together, experiencing nature, meditation, yoga and music - for so simply diving into the "pulse of life".
However, this is how life made me come back to Vrindavan in March this year, again much earlier than expected - this time exactly on my 33rd birthday. After having spent some super relaxing days at the Ashram I found my intuition to have been absolutely right, when the first participants arrived. Looking back at our days in the mountains I just have to say that we enjoyed really nice group dynamics, with participants becoming friends that are still in touch today with some of them even planning to join the upcoming Himalaya journey in 2013.
All of us very much looking forward to hit the mountains, we started our trip towards Rishikesh via Delhi in a small bus. We were in a good mood and so time flew and the driving hours, sweetened by a couple of refreshing chai and coke breaks at the roadside, passed by smoothly and fast. In Rishikesh Yashendu had organized a nice hotel at the riverside so before experiencing a great day in downtown Rishikesh and the surroundings the next day we used the remaining hours of our first evening together to sit outside in the warmth, enjoying the sunset at Ganga river, singing songs and listening to Thomas playing the Sitar.
However, my personal highlight was the final relaxation at the end of our first Yoga class the next morning, when - out of the silence - Thomas started to play the Bansuri. Lying on the ground in deep relaxation, my body seemed to literally absorb the magic atmosphere of this new born day, all my senses had been activated, enjoying the smell, taste and sound of this very special moment. Tears of gratefulness started to run down my face and I thought "Yes... water always finds a way..."
We continued our journey uphill towards Gangotri, the source of Ganga river, and the higher we came the more the mountains displayed their natural flair with breathtaking views into the valleys and onto the surrounding summits. Although it was quite a long distance we covered that day our enthusiasm was unbreakable and I enjoyed the opportunity to let my thoughts flow, just looking out of the window and from time to time noticing a smile run over my face in my attempt to remember a top 10 list of the funniest road signs with lyrical messages such as "The road is hilly, don't be silly!" or "Be soft on my curves!"
In Gangotri the season hadn't started yet, so we were almost the only people around which I liked very much as Gangotri would usually be swamped by a wave of tourists and pilgrims as soon as the season starts. Whilst in Rishikesh we had enjoyed hot temperatures, with increasing height it had become cooler and cooler and now - with no electricity or heating - we even had to pack ourselves with warm pullovers, shawls and blankets. As we already knew in the pre-run that there wouldn't be any food available neither we had brought some snacks and fruits and enjoyed our first evening "indoor picnic", with everybody sitting together cozily in the light of candles, telling stories, chatting, laughing and making plans for the next day.
Gangotri is a place that I can hardly describe in words. However when I think of it what at first place comes into my mind is "pure", "integer" and "timeless". Somehow things seem to be "clear", leaving out any kind of additional drama... This is at least what I felt when - my organism still struggling to adjust to the altitude - I slowly moved my body through this picturesque small village the next morning, step by step, consciously breathing in and out the fresh air of the mountains. I would have never thought that Yoga could have that much impact on my body but in the end it was our morning Yoga course that did the trick and made me feel much better.
We had great weather and despite the cold during the night it had become warm enough to spend a wonderful day outside in the nature. We enjoyed every single minute, following the river uphill, sitting in the sun and picking river stones as presents for our families and friends. Yashendu even was brave enough to take a bath whilst I decided to leave that at my "to do list" for next year. Moreover it was Anne-Marie's birthday and so our day ended with a spontaneous "birthday party", sitting around a warming fire by the riverside, listening to the play of the guitar and watching the stars at the night sky.
After an in between stop in New Tehri, with its spectacular Tehri lake we continued our way towards Joshimath which served us as base station for a day trip to Auli, with somewhat over 4.000 meters the highest point of our journey. We enjoyed a nice uphill walk which even led us through some snow fields and having reached the top decided to sit down for meditation, amidst the beautiful scenery of Nanda Devi and the surrounding mountains. Sitting there in complete silence not even the wind that had become stronger and stronger could pull my attention away from this very special moment of contemplation and I promised myself to keep this experience as best practice for my daily life back home where I would always remember my "peaceful resistance" whenever the "winds start to blow".
We left very early the next morning and our schedule brought us down the mountains, with Jim Corbett National Park being our last destination. We had very much enjoyed the life in the mountains but now the time was just right to get enthusiastic about our hotel with beautiful flowery gardens and even a swimming pool that would allow us to relax from the long drive that we had left behind us. So this is how we spent the evening - swimming, laughing and just having fun.
For our last day which of course also started with some Yoga in the garden, we had planned a Safari trip into Jim Corbett National Park. Although wild animals seemed to be a bit "shy" that day we had a great time and I remember having had sour muscles afterwards from laughing for hours and hours. By the way, my top favorite was some super dangerous turtle that was waiting for us at the roadside - but this is another story to tell.
Before returning to Vrindavan the next morning we spent our evening playing the guitar and singing songs again and simply couldn't stop to enjoy the very nice atmosphere of this last night, giving birth to a song about the Himalaya that will always remind us of the unforgettable time we had.
What is left now is to say many thanks again to Yashendu - our "brain" and tour guide - for the great organization of the journey, to Thomas for his music - may it be "Sitar, Bansuri or Guitar", and to the whole group for all the humor and great laughs we shared. For me this journey is definitely an experience that is worth to be given a follow-up and I would like to encourage everybody to join the group next time. So don't think - just do!