We’ve been at the Ayush Guest House for six weeks. Every day, we’ve eaten our meals in the company of Prashant and Nayana Gupta, a warm and friendly couple who have been staying here for two months.
The monsoon seemed to begin in earnest about 10 days ago, with heavy rains occurring every day for at least a couple of hours. The rains have greened up the forests, and brought forth many lovely wildflowers. I love the flowers, but I enjoy the mushrooms and fungi even more.
Alan first pointed out the Anandamayi ashram to me one day when we were walking down the Binsar road from Kasar Devi Mandir. I saw a group of orange-red buildings tucked into the hillside below Chota Bazaar (or NTD, as it’s more properly known), with a very old stone temple just below the ashram complex. It looked intriguing, so we decided to visit in the next day or two.
Over the years I’ve seen many examples of Indian religious symbols that occur in nature – things like the coco-de-mer, or rocks that resemble a Shiva lingam arranged in a temple and anointed with vermilion, just like formal sculptures of gods.
But up to now, I’d only seen these things in photographs, or displayed in a temple or museum. So it was special to discover for ourselves, a few days ago, a symbol of Shiva-Shakti in a mountain stream.
Alan and I enjoyed staying in Almora, but we wanted to find a quieter place, somewhere we could take long country walks without continually dodging motorcycles, trucks and taxis. As soon as we found our guesthouse in Papershali, we knew it was the right place for us.
Alan discovered Nanda Devi Mandir (“mandir” means “temple” in Hindi) during his first week in Almora, before I came to join him in India. We returned to this temple time and time again while staying in Almora, and now that we are living in a nearby village, we visit Nanda Devi whenever we’re in town for shopping or errands.
We always said we’d study Hindi together someday, when we had time, and when we were living in India. So now we’re finally doing it.
The Bell Temple – properly known as the Chitai Golu Devta Temple – is just a short walk from our guesthouse, and it’s a wonderful place to visit: full of tradition, incense and of course, the ringing of bells. (I wear earplugs.) Continue reading
After arriving in Bageshwar yesterday afternoon from Almora, we were tempted to climb up to Chandika Mandir, a beautiful temple sitting atop one of the peaks that mark Bageshwar’s location at the confluence of the Saryu and Gomti rivers.
But after nearly four hours on a bus, with a speaker directly over our heads belting out Hindi film music, we really needed a nap. So we walked around Bageshwar for an hour or so, ate lunch, and had our rest, planning to make our Chandika Mandir visit the next morning.
We’ve spent nearly a week in Almora, more time than I might have imagined we’d want to spend in a town of perhaps 36,000 people whose most famous monuments are mostly outside the town.