This trip was planned as an adventure. Turned out to be a profound religious experience.
It started with the excitement of a long driving tour with good friends.
Ended in me being much more knowledgeable, with a newfound interest in religion. I now understand religion from so many different aspects that I was blissfully unaware of until now.
After a dip in the holy Triveni Sangam, my perspective and attitude towards government administration changed completely. How would they manage this sea of humanity?
If you haven’t already guessed what I am talking about, I’ll tell you. I am talking about my trip to the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.
I had heard a lot about the Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019 from friends and through social media, so I thought of going. Though I like going to religious places, I usually avoid crowds and crowded places. Keeping that in mind I checked on dates for ‘Shahi Snan’ so as to not go on those dates.
Now came the question of transport. Started looking at options – Nothing economical available! What do we do now?
In a flash, came the answer! Why not go by car? Four of us were planning to go on this trip and two were good drivers. So that was decided. With mounting excitement we chalked out an itinerary after a long discussion. The plan was to start from Nagpur. First stop – Bhedaghat near Jabalpur. Next – Chitrakoot, then on to Prayagraj. While returning we would cover Amarkantak and Champaran. A trip that would cover almost 1800 km.
Now came the next challenge. Accommodation. This was peak season, finding hotel rooms would be tough, if not impossible. Another flash! Why not Dharamshalas? An uncle of mine had been to some religious places a few months back. I called and asked him how he had managed. Turned out he had used a religious tour website – Yatradham. He recommended them. I checked it out and was pleasantly surprised to find I could get good options at all the five places. That too confirmed!
The big day dawned – Packed, loaded and ready to go! With great excitement we set off on our adventure. This is how it unfolded –
Started out for Jabalpur early morning. It was to be a drive of almost 300 km. We went straight to Dhuandhar waterfalls on the Narmada river. The height of the falls is about 10 metres (30 feet). Driving along the world famous marble rocks through which the river makes its way was awesome! The river then plunges down at the place known as Dhuandhar falls. The roar of the river with mist floating all around leaves one dumbstruck! The sheer volume of water is mind boggling.
After spending some time here we left for Chitrakoot.
Our first night halt was In Chitrakoot. we stayed at the Adichunchanagiri Mahasansthan Math. Simple, but clean and pleasant. A very comfortable night indeed!
Early in the morning we set out for local sightseeing after darshan at the Math temple. Among the places we visited were – Ram ghat, Kamadnathji, Shri Hanuman Dhara, Shri Koti Tirth, Shri Ram Shaiyya. It was like walking through the pages of history. This was the turning point in my life. My mind was shaken up and religion took on a whole new meaning in my life.
After spending most of the day in Chitrakoot, we set off for Prayagraj. Reached there by nightfall. We had booked rooms at Jain Mandir Dharamshala which is bang in the middle of the city. Thank God for Yatradham! The dharamshala and our rooms were fine, the staff was helpful. Only problem was we did not get parking space for our car, but we knew that from beforehand as it was mentioned on their site. Tired and worn out, we all slept like logs.
DAY THREE / FOUR / FIVE
After an early morning darshan of the Lord at the Jain Mandir on the premises of our dharamshala we are ready for the great Kumbh!. The manager of the dharamshala gave us very useful guidelines which helped us all through our visit to Prayagraj. The kumbh area was spread out over an area of about 25 km, part of it on the riverbed.
We spent three days here exploring as much as we could. Our priority was the holy dip in the Triveni which we did first. The efficiency of the administration in organising this herculean task left us gaping! The officials – senior and junior, were very cooperative and helpful. They answered all our questions patiently.
We met a lot of saints and sadhus including Swami Ramdev. Here I would like to put on record, my appreciation for all the security, cleaning and other support staff who were working against all odds. I never expected to see such a mammoth event and gathering of people organised and handled as it was. An amazing effort!
Departed for Amarkantak – late evening of day five..
After having arrived at 02:00 AM in the freezing cold, we once again appreciated arrangements made by Yatradham. Our rooms were booked in Sarvodaya Jain dharamshala. Despite our very late arrival we were welcomed. Of course, we had informed them in advance!
After a short sleep and then a healthy breakfast, we set out to explore Amarkantak. First stop was the Maa Narmada temple. Har Har Narmade was the chant all the way! Amarkantak is a fascinating place.
Maa Narmada Temple
Departed for Champaran late in the afternoon and arrived at the Sudamapuri Dharamshala in the evening. The sheer size of the complex amazed us. The delicious ‘Mahaprasad’ served there was the perfect end to yet another fun filled and tiring day. Sweet sleep was never more welcome!
The Champaran Baithakji temple is a five minute walk from our dharamshala. The birthplace of Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya Ji is a revered place of worship for Vaishnavs. It is the first of the Baithakjis. Darshan here was heart-warming.
After exploring Champaran, and another delicious meal of Mahaprasad, we left for Nagpur with a heavy heart and fond memories. Our trip was about to end. We were indeed fortunate enough to have participated in the biggest peaceful gathering of humanity in the world and take a holy dip in Triveni Sangam and Maa Narmada.
We are back in Nagpur now, tired and worn out but buzzing with a new found energy! Our thanks to Yatradham whose flawless arrangements made our trip the fun it was.
HAR HAR GANGE!! HAR HAR NARMADE!! HAR HAR MAHADEV!!