Rishikesh & Yātrā 2022
Rishikesh & Yātrā 2022 was amazing. It was intense as only India can be. It was a challenging, rewarding, awe inspiring and emotional journey for all of us. It was, in the words of Rosa, hard!
But we all did it. We all got through the 5 days of yoga and exploring Rishikesh easily. We got to the 4 temples of Chota Chardham, which is not necessarily easily achieved, and a lot of beautiful smaller temples along the way.
We all managed many hours of travel through some of the most spectacular and beautiful scenery in the world with a lot of laughter and camaraderie. We survived toilets with a rating from zero (“you don’t want to go in there”) to 8 out of 10.
We had the surreal experience of priests arguing heatedly over who should be able to do pooja for us. We saw a melee break out when someone tried to jump the queue to a very sacred cave temple. We saw cows, bullocks, goats and sheep on the roads. We saw monkeys. We saw the biggest (harmless) spiders I’ve ever seen.
We travelled through many very small villages, many terraced rice paddies. We saw the locals celebrating weddings. We saw them harvesting their rice crop. We met some of the nicest and friendliest people anywhere. The locals loved that we were there and that we were doing Chardham. We were cheered as we dipped in the river at Gangotri. Everywhere people were interested to hear where we were from and how we were enjoying India.
We were blessed with our guides and with our bus driver. Sanjeev, our first guide is and experienced mountain guide and knows the region like the back of his hand. He has a deep understanding of the stories behind the temples and, despite his English being limited, has a wonderful way of conveying them. He has a huge heart and the trip would not have been the same without him. Praveen, our driver is the most patient and unflappable person I have had drive me in India. He made us feel safe on the madness that is the traffic in India and on some of the narrowest roads with the steepest drops will will ever see. Mohit, who took over from Sanjeev when the latter’s mother got put in hospital, is as likeable and pleasant person as you could meet. He lived in Invercargill so his English was very good and he was so helpful and knowledgeable.
I need to thank the 10 people who joined me on this trip. Becs, Shelley, Rosa, Hayley, Jennifer, Josh, Ben, Lynne, Peter and Avis, you guys were awesome. You made the journey what it was. Organising undertakings like this and being in a leadership role does not come naturally to me. You all made it easy and made me keen to do the trip again in 2023. Thank you.
They say that one picture is worth 1000 words, so below are small selection of of some of the pics we took and some words from my fellow Yātris. Enjoy.
A very fine adventure
We were in Shivas backyard to see and be seen by god. We chanted to Shiva and also to Ganesha for safe travels. And we nourished ourselves with the most delicious of foods.
Lucky us to land in Rishikesh. Such a magical place to be. And our rainforest refuge – just out of town on the banks of the massive vibes of the Ganges – the perfect spot for our yoga retreat.
On to the Chota Char Dham Yatra pilgrimage. What an epic adventure. During these days we were blessed with breathtaking landscapes of the Himalayas, abundance of waterfalls, impressive rivers, beautiful countryside and interesting villages.
This trip was a rich sensory experience showcasing the magnitude of India and the richness of culture and divinity. Thanks to Mike for making this trip happen. And thanks for the wonderful humanity of our hosts, knowledge and warmth of our guides, and expert skill of our driver. Importantly too our fun, love and caring for each other.
Its hard to put such a rich experience into a few sentences….. So many beautiful moments – practicing yoga to the roar of the Ganges, being surrounded by the snow capped Himalayas, roadside chai, an icy dip in the Bhagirathi river, sunrise at Kedarnath, evening pooja in Uttakarshi, the peaceful vibe at Kalimath temple and experiencing the warmth and hospitality from the beautiful people of India.
So many memories to treasure from this trip. Practicing yoga in its spiritual home on the banks of the Ganges. Sharing the joy and challenges of time on the road in India with a special group of people – the best of travelling companions, the adventure wouldn’t have been the same without them. Amazing food, every day. Dipping in sacred glacial rivers. The commitment to good, strong coffee in the morning shared by some of the team. Befriending our local guides, who are the loveliest people you will ever meet. This was the trip of a lifetime, and it’s awesome that Mike plans to keep it going – I hope I have the opportunity to do it all again soon.