You must be wondering what took me so long to write about my trip to Valley of flowers, Hemkunt Sahib et al which happened in August last year. Well, no reason in particular…. last year I travelled a lot and every time I thought of writing it down, I travelled some more ! 😛
Other assignments kept me occupied and VOF posts got pushed again & again. I must now start documenting lest I forget.
Without further delay, here is my day by day account of the trip. Kindly bear with me if it turns out to be very detailed, I need to document it for future reference.
Train journey to Haridwar- Day 1
Our journey had started on August 27th when the monsoon season was at its peak. We traveled by train from Mumbai till Haridwar. V wasn’t in India and wanted to join me on this trip but his return dates were not fixed. Booking of air tickets for 2 persons for 4 different dates and then canceling them would have been a disastrous step. So, the best thing was to book railway tickets for these different dates, so that cancellation does not pinch us much.
Taking an early morning train itself was a pain. Living in an isolated area, there were no rickshaw/ cab available at that hour to even go to local railway station. Walked half a kilometer with bag & baggage to bus stop, took the first bus at 5 AM which dropped us to local railway station and from there we took local train for Tilak nagar and again to LTT, the starting station for our journey. All this while it rained continuously.
This train was to end at Haridwar the next day afternoon. A long journey ahead, we wondered how it’d go. We had a surprise waiting for us.
Once in train we found that the majority of the passengers were part of a Satsang group. Ahaa ! We are going to have an awesome time. 🙂
The head of the Satsang was traveling in the same coach as ours (3 Tier AC) and every few minutes a huge group from other coaches would appear to seek her blessings. It seemed this yatra was announced to her followers and so whenever we arrived at any station en route, the chief would appear on the door, many will join the yatra to Haridwar and a large number of devotees including sadhus (saints) would send them off by chanting the “Ganga maiyya” song on Bollywood tune in full volume. A proper aarti would then happen before the train continued its journey. While the other ‘normal’ passengers used the other door of the coach, the TTE would patiently wait. This ritual went on for the entire journey of more than 32 hours!
Inside the train, whether you liked it or not, you are entertained with loud Bhajans to the tune of popular bollywood songs. There were co-coordinators in each coach and needs of everyone in the group were heard & taken care of. Hail mobile phones! So whenever any chaiwala appeared, his tea would get over within a few minutes without reaching people like us and we would patiently wait for another one. They were selling 100+ tea to devotees in each coach and all the payments were done by a person in our coach!
There is much more to write but I’ll stop my train journey here.
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