Solo trips are considered to be such an empowering thing to do. Hence, I have decided to take solo trips every now and then, mostly to the places of worship in our country.
The first religious solo trip that I made was to Rishikesh in April 2022.
Before that, I had been to Rishikesh in 1997, at the age of 10, and at the time, was suffering from acute motion sickness, and didn’t remember even a single moment of time spent in the holy place. That had somehow bugged me all these years, and so I chose Rishikesh as the first holy sight to take a solo trip in.
I had thought that after I have been near the gorgeous and divine Ganga, my creativity would open up! I would be super productive, and very much at peace.
The first reaction at Rishikesh was that of…confusion!
No doubt it was a calming place! I reached Parmarth Ashram, where I was staying, at around 11 am, and after freshening up, decided to go for a walk around the city, including the Laxman Jhula area!
As Parmarth Ashram is closer to the Ram Jhula, I thought of crossing that first! I felt nothing, to be honest, as I passed by the moving jhula amongst a huge number of people, some passing with huge luggage, some clicking pictures right in the middle of the jhula, not really bothering about letting people pass by peacefully! From Ram Jhula, I saw the wonderfully beautiful Muni Ki Reti area, where a few devotees were taking a dip! But I wanted to be alone.., and so I decided to instead to go on the bank opposite Muni ki Reti – which was totally deserted!
I crossed the Ram Jhula, and took a right turn, wanting to go on the bank opposite Muni Ki Reti..and I ended up facing a small, rusted gate. I looked inside to see that it looked like a garden with so many pretty flowers. On the left, there was a shrine in which there was an idol of a Guru I didn’t know. Other than that, the place was….umm…utterly deserted! Not a single soul moved. So, I did. I pushed open the rusted gate and ventured inside climbing down a steep flight of stairs, which led to the garden.
Despite being right on the bank of the Ganga, this garden..was..unusually quiet! More than that, what hit me were the vibrations of the place. It was as if the garden didn’t want me there. It was trying to shoo me away, it felt like there was danger lurking somewhere if I went deeper inside. I tried to take some pictures, acting like a cool tourist, but with every passing minute, there was a sudden fear in my heart that strengthened my need to run away from that place! Still, ignoring my heart, and the vibes that I was getting, I ventured a little further down the garden, scared even to look at the shrine where a stone statue of a Guru sat in Padmasan.
And there I found, a small temple. Looked like a private temple right on the banks of the Ganga.. the small temple was of Mata Ganga…and a handicapped, old dog was guarding it! There on the wall was a note that said ‘GANGA KE PAAS IS AUR SE NA AANA, DOOBNE KI SAMBHAVNA HAI.’ (DON’T COME NEAR THE RIVER FROM THIS SIDE, YOU MAY GET DROWNED)..but of course, like any curious tourist, I thought I can go a wee-bit nearer!
But as I took two steps near the restricted area, the old, guarding dog, with one foot cut off, jumped and started barking at me so ferociously that I thought he was going to eat me! Yes, eat me! I retraced my steps, but the dog didn’t stop growling. I literally felt that the dog was an old soul who was warning me because I didn’t pay heed to the warning signs on the wall. In fact, he was so angry, that he growled, and barked and growled again, until I got really scared that he will literally jump on me, and make me his food, and so, I ran up the flight of those rickety, weird, old stairs, straight out of the garden!! The dog stopped barking as soon as I was outside the small, rusted gate, and went back to guarding Maa Ganga’s temple quietly.
And this is where I learned one of the biggest lessons of life.
That some boundaries are always to be respected. Understanding someone’s need for privacy is directly proportional to the level of our self-respect. And also that Nature speaks. In ways that even our common human ears can hear. It’s only that we sometimes choose to ignore it, and then when we face the consequences of not listening, we end up crying, blaming, and complaining. Despite a thousand warnings, we only do what we feel is right, not giving a single thought to other people’s feelings.
I do not know why the garden wanted to send me away. I can only guess, which might be a bad guess, so I don’t want to make any guesses. I only know that next time, if I come across something or someone who even subtly tells me not to bother it, I will listen to Nature, and calmly do as it says.