The benevolent and unselfish nature of Mother Earth has given every human being something to cherish and worship. In India, the concept of displaying one’s devotion to a natural force or existence symbolizes the harmony, connectivity, and unity between man and the wonderful world. It is said that when one closely observes the world, he or she becomes aware of a beauty and harmony within him or herself which greatly resembles the beauty and harmony of the world. This sense of communion is what motivated our enthusiastic group, my father, and me to embark on a rigorous journey to the mouth of the River Ganges, a majestic cave compromised of a slippery and compact plateau of ice glaciers, referred to as Gomukh.
We began our expedition in the summer of 2009, fully engulfed in the amazement and uncertainty of the days ahead of us. My father’s enlightening experience after traveling to Mt. Kilas influenced him to entirely organize our trip as he took the authority to integrate our slightly Americanized lives with the distinct Indian culture. Therefore, in order to reach our destination safely, we needed to take enough precautions while traveling, and so we planned our days meticulously. The water we drank had to be boiled or bottled, the food we consumed was always cooked with purified water, the hotels we boarded in were always clean and hospitable, and the clothes we wore protected us from the rapidly changing weather of northern India. We abided by all of these provisions in hopes of being prepared for our journey; however, we were about to venture in to the Himalayan mountain range which was a very unpredictable pursuit.
We arrived in the Indira Gandhi International Airport and although it was late night, we were welcomed by the scorch of the everlasting heat and accompanied by the humidity of the bustling city all the way to our lodge, The Plaza Hotel. Our energized group enjoyed a traditional Indian meal of piping hot rotis and delicious paneer butter masala as we discussed the plans for the following day.
After a good night’s rest, we awoke to a vast day of journey upon our own private air conditioned bus, stocked with snacks and bottles of water. In order to travel a considerable amount of distance in ration to the harsh, meandering roads and get acclimatized to the changing altitude, we halted each night after about 15 kilometers. Our first stay was in the holy city of Haridwar, where we performed a beautiful puja, or worship, to the Goddess Ganga, embodied in the peaceful River Ganges that flows through the village.
The next few days were characterized by numerous darshans, or spectacles, of the Goddess in some of the most famous tourist temples in India: Yamunotri and Gangotri. As we approached our destination, we were required to adapt to an environment in which basic amenities were scarce. However, to my surprise, I observed how our group of friends slowly transformed into a close-knit family and because of this attitude, all tiredness and weakness began to evaporate as we embarked on the most difficult portion of our trip. Next, we trekked through the beautiful forests of Bhojwas and halted at the most serene camping environment where we were treated with a hearty meal of rotis and subji. As we hiked around the last glacier, our eyes were captured by the amazing roar and grandeur of the Gomukh cave. The Ganges ferociously crashing among the boulders of ice opened our eyes to the beauty and harmony of nature that we hoped to instill in our own lives.
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