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Adventures in Shulpani hill during Narmada Parikrama

Excerpts from the book of Vivek ji: Narmada Parikrama -Walking the 3,000 kilometres of sacred Riverbanks of holy Narmada

Shulpani Valley
Vivek ji looking at the Shulpani Valley

Once again, we set out on our journey by foot. As we ambled along, a feeling of hunger gradually permeated through the group. The provisions for lunch were non-existent. Despite the coordinator's promise to provide us with lunch, his current whereabouts remain a mystery. The lack of cellular coverage had rendered all phones inoperable. After a considerable amount of time had elapsed, I approached Atul, our esteemed cameraman, and inquired about his plans for lunch? He responded with humility, stating that he would deem himself most fortunate if he were to be granted a portion of chappatis. Very well," I replied. "Please proceed to Mother Narmada and convey this message to her.” He proceeds in hushed footsteps, offering up a prayer to Mother Narmada for a bountiful meal. The time was approximately two o'clock.

The parikramavasis caught sight of a swiftly flowing stream amidst the lush greenery of the forest and turned to me with a query as to whether they could take a rejuvenating plunge. "Of course, you may," I readily assented.

I settled into the plush seat, my gaze drawn to the breathtaking majesty of the mountains. The surroundings were eerily tranquil, with scarcely any sign of vehicular activity owing to the lack of interconnecting roads. However, my attention was drawn to a pair of vehicles that materialised before me - one being a police jeep and the other adorned with a political sticker. I held onto the conviction that a team had been deployed to track me down, but alas, their endeavours were in vain as they could not establish my true identity. Remarkable was their speed. They passed by me, and after half an hour, they retraced their steps and returned to the very spot where I was seated. Vijay Chaudhary, a prominent politician from the area, made his presence known. He emerged from his vehicle with a weighty heart, and with a humble tone, conveyed his remorse for his lack of familiarity with the surroundings. Unbeknownst to him, the true nature of the obstacles that awaited him remained shrouded in mystery. He lamented the failed arrangements he had orchestrated. My mood was elevated and I felt rather jovial. I declined, confidently assuring that no failure had occurred. All was well. However, he persisted in shedding tears incessantly. Suddenly, the road we were travelling on became inundated with an abundance of food. As I gazed upon Atul, I inquired, "Did you not beseech the great lunch from Mother Narmada?" His eyes welled up with tears, for his supplications had been answered in full. This is the manner in which Mother Narmada carries out her duties.

In our company was Vijay Chaudhary, who diligently endeavoured to arrange our accommodations for the night. Upon arrival at a certain locale, it was deemed a suitable abode for my repose. As I arrived at the humble abode of a farmer, I couldn't help but think of the popular notion of "The Good Place." It seemed that this modest accommodation was a fitting representation of that idyllic concept, and I eagerly made my way inside. As I gazed upon the pastoral scene before me, my eyes were met with the sight of numerous goats. However, my enjoyment of the moment was somewhat dampened by the fact that I suffer from an allergy to these creatures. This affliction was first acquired during a stay in France, where I had the misfortune of sharing sleeping quarters with a group of goats. Their tendency to jump and frolic about had made it difficult for me to find rest, and the experience had left a lasting impression.

As I reminisced about my time spent in France, memories of goats flooded my mind. With a resolute tone, I declared that I could not possibly rest in this place. We began our journey at a leisurely pace, taking measured steps as we embarked on a six-kilometer trek to our next potential lodging destination. Pramod Bambal, Rahul, and several others accompanied us on our journey, though they lagged behind and assumed we were nearing our destination. As our nocturnal arrangements had been altered, the encroaching darkness had begun to unsettle Pramod Bambal, who was increasingly apprehensive about the diverse array of wildlife inhabiting the surrounding woods.

As we arrived at Sanvariyadigar, the place where we were lodging, we were struck by the history of the school that stood before us. Constructed by the Medha Patkar many years ago, the school was in a state of great adversity. The absence of walls in their school allowed for an unobstructed view of every corner. I was assigned a small, makeshift room that doubled as a classroom, with my bed serving as a makeshift desk made by joining several school tables together. Our dinner had to be sourced from a location that was a hundred kilometres away from our current whereabouts. Up ahead where our vehicle was located, there were no connecting roads. Pravin Chauhan had transported a car atop a boat. The connectivity between Sanvariyadigar and Belgaon leaves much to be desired, as one must resort to traversing by boat during the months of November through January due to the abundance of backwater. However, come summer, the route is once again open for travel. Pravin Chauhan arrived with provisions, including food, blankets, and other necessities. I retired for the night in a humble abode that had been fashioned out of makeshift materials. It was a marked improvement from the alternative, which likely would have been a space previously occupied by goats. On that day, it dawned on me that Mother Narmada intended to convey a powerful message: every successful plan owes its triumph to a single individual, and that individual is none other than oneself.

Excerpts from the book of Vivek ji: Narmada Parikrama -Walking the 3,000 kilometres of sacred Riverbanks of holy Narmada


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