Indian City Travelogue
- Mayavati, Uttarakhand
Ashram, Mount Abbot
long awaited place Mayavati was in my mind for quite some. Finally
on 12th of June, 2006 we could make it and boarded the Ranikhet
express from Delhi Station reaching Kathgodam station at 6.15 in
the morning next day. Our programme was to go to Lohaghat about
165 km. from Kathgodam. I estimated the cost of hiring a car would
be around Rs. 1600/- but we found they were claiming Rs. 3500/-,
Rs. 2,500/- etc. I had to politely decline such offers. We went
out of the station and looked for a cheaper one and finally found
a car at Rs. 2000/-. Although it was little above our budget estimate,
we finally gave in as alternative by bus would take about 8 to 9
hours journey and we would reach Lohaghat around 3 p.m. The road
to Lohaghat was through Bhimtal, Padampuri, Dhanchuli, Sahar Phatak,
Devidhura and it had sharp turn at every minute. It was really an
exhaustive drive. Lohaghat is at a height of 1700m above sea level
and an important point near Mayavati Ashram (1940m) and Abbot
guest house at Lohaghat had a good view of the thickly tall
trees all around. We reached just before 12.00 O'clock and were
allotted a room with a view. The room was quite big with attached
bath. I could do my daily exercises inside the room, it was that
big. The discordant note was that maintenance was poor. As we were
very tired we ordered for a hot cup of tea for all. The weather
was just right. We refreshed ourselves through hot water bath. By
2 p.m. we had our lunch and sat in the sun for some time. There
was another family staying at the guest house who hailed from Allahabad.
It was a joint family and the grand parents were very loving and
rest in the afternoon we had a cup of tea and went out for a walk.
Shivani, our daughter, was not keeping very well so we had to satisfy
ourselves with the local landscape. The night sky was a bit cloudy
so we could not see as many stars as we expected to. For the next
day programme to Mount Abbhot and Mayavati we confirmed a jeep for
Rs. 900/-. The rate was quite high.
Early in the morning
of 14th June, I got up at 3.30 a.m. instead of 4.30 a.m. I saw the
watch and it was 4.30 a.m.! It was due to my mistake to see the
hour hand at 4.30 when it was really 3.30 a.m. After my wash I could
do some exercises as there was plenty of time before our scheduled
programme at 5.30 a.m. The Jeep came at 5.40 a.m. by the time we
all were ready to go. The early morning breeze was so nice but a
bit cold. We headed for Mount Abbhot. The road to the Abbot Mount
is a spiral and steep one with lovely scene all around. Suddenly
you reach a plateau where one can play football or cricket. The
view from the top, I suppose, on clear days should be exhilarating
having full circle view. The sun rise and the Icy Himalayan view
could have been visible if things were really clear. I would like
to suggest visitors to visit this point only during Oct-Nov and
again March-April when the sky remains clear. It was quite cold
there early in the morning.
From this place we
went back to our guest house to have breakfast. Shivani and her
mother had bath and were ready for breakfast. In the meantime, I
basked in the early morning sun and enjoyed listening to the chirruping
of the birds.
After breakfast our
next destination was Mayavati Ashram. This is about 11 k.m. from
our guest house. This is the only Ashram of Sri Ramakrishna
Brotherhood where no formal worshipping takes place and there are
no idol to worship either unlike other centres of this brotherhood.
For a long time I had a longing to visit this place. The location
is wonderful amid thick forest commanding a grand view of the Himalayas
(unfortunately the summer time- May/June remains cloudy). It is
situated at a height of 1940m. This place had a special attraction
for me because Swamiji stayed at this Ashram for 14 days from 3rd
January to 17th January, 1901 when it was mostly raining, or snowing.
Only for 2 or 3 days the weather was little better and he could
take a walk along the lake (now a volleyball court).
One day, walking by
the lake with Mrs. Saviour and others, he said to her,"In the
latter part of my life, I shall give up all public work and pass
my days in writing books and whistling merry tunes by this lake,
free as a child!" What a wonderful personality he had, I could
imagine standing by the side of this apparent lake. The Library
room where Swamiji stayed during his sojourn at Mayavati has been
converted into a Meditation Hall. I was thrilled to enter the room
as if he were present there. The fire place which warmed him once
remained a mute witness to his presence. If only the books, the
fireplace could narrate to us the tale of his dynamic presence!
What a difference could it make to the visitors of this wonderful
We sat in the room
quietly for sometime. I was thinking how fortunate these books in
the library are. These could see the history in the making. Although
physically a very little change has been effected and maintained
to present a view of the room as it looked during Swamiji?s visit,
in reality more than a century flew by. If I knew the art of freezing
time, we could have met him here, in this room. What a miracle it
would have been! After paying my obescience to this great spiritual
leader, I stepped out of the room remembering his message of fearlessness.
The blooming flowers in the well laid out garden was another illustration
of love for the nature of the inmates. I took a walk in the garden
and marveled at the glory of that Supreme that helped create this
beautiful nature. There I happened to meet one visitor who frequents
this place to enjoy the serene and sombre atmosphere of the Ashram.
He took me to the lake where Swamiji used to take a walk by it.
I also visited the place where Swami Swarupananda used to meditate.
Mrs. Saviour got him a netted structure to keep leopards or such
animals at bay so that Swami Swarupananda, the first president of
Mayavati, could meditate without any disturbance.
photography inside the Math premises was prohibited, I went to the
book stall and found a copy of the awakened India January 1999 issue.
This issue was dedicated to the story and history of Mayavati with
a special coverage given on the visit of Swamiji. This issue is
indeed a marvelous collection of writings and gives you in details
the evolution of Mayavati Ashram through the century and how the
baton was passed on to one. We
had to leave Mayavati Ashram reluctantly as the closing time was
knocking at the door. We thought of spending substantial time at
Mayavati but the administrative limitation did not permit us to
do so. However, what we experienced there would remain with us for
ever and ever.
Contributing Traveller :
Sukhendu [email protected]
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