Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spirit~ Catcher~Karni

Alwar is a little town not far of from Delhi (some three hours ride). I visited this quaint little village town when i was young with my parents, i had some time back gone with two of my friends for a supernatural weekend, and we surely had a lottt of fun ;)
Rajasthan is best experienced with the tinge of winter in the air, we visited alwar (myself, alap and dhruv) in the months of september way back in 2007. We felt good, and we had good strength in our legs to explore the place. we reach by evening and head out to check out the town, i forgot to tell you that we visited during the special nights of navratri (navami to be precise- which also was an almost full moon night). The town glowed with devotional/lite up/moon light flavours, and many people were out. After checking into a hotel, we headed out to eat and ask around for any sites, our hotel owner told us about karni mata's hill, which was further confirmed by the restaurant owners- there was a temple for the goddess, on top of a hill- which would be open all night long cause of navratras- there was a decent way up and it was safe- all we needed to hear, we checked out all our gear for the night and headed towards the way to the hill.
The hill starts at the periphery of the local fort of the town, the fort is something which i remember from my childhood, my cousins and i had taken lots of rounds of photos sitting on the marble enclosures at the bank of a bathing ghat/fountain of sorts within the compound of the fort. It looked beautiful. the lights were everywhere- and people all bustled here and there - something unusual for 10 odd at night in a local indian town. Families out with kids and balloons and the whole jazz, we found some time to rest from the bus ride in the periphery of the ghat, and then we headed to the entrance towards karni ma.
I felt good cause it was navratris- i always am full power during those times, both my companions weren't going up with some sort of spiritual power drama in their minds like me :) but ofcourse to see a nice place.
The moon had risen and the entire path was lit up, it was surreal- nothing else to describe it. There is a huge fort gate after climbing some distance on a pretty big path (which was decently big the whole distance i guess). We find some hid away small temples dedicated to bhairon- shiva and kali, away from the main path, its a very eery hill, with signs of many ancient power places.
We relax and walk easy, talking and keeping silence and appreciating the cool weather, view and the moonlit scenery. We stop once in a while, when we see some sites of broken/withered down fort pieces, and some temples (small) on the way. the view is breathtaking, though we were assured there would be a constant rush tonight, we dont find too many people on the way. Pretty much all clear for us. .
There are some stretches on the climb where landslides had taken place and that was the only bothor on the way, we reach a temple at the top of the hill paths end. These two dont come inside, alap goes on his way while dhruv keeps cribbing to himself, i head inside and pray to the main deity hanuman, for some power at this time.
I find that this is only the beginning, there is an elaborate way which leads higher up one level through a proper road. I tell dhruv, that i am exploring and i head in, he waits on for alap to get unlost. I walk for a long time, as there is a proper road going all the way in, I reach a cross road- one way which leads to the fort on the hill, and the other is a long stretch (around 10 km) to karni mata's temple, which leads further to alwar itself.
I wanted to go to the temple, but 10 km was too long, I see some pilgrim dudes coming from a side part next to the cross road, and inquire to find that this is a short cut to the temple, through a climb down jungle path. The temple is in a valley of sorts- so you climb the hill first and then climb down the other side to the temple, there is a lake there as well. I dont hesitate and start climbing down, the people i chatted with told me to be careful in a cheerful/surprised tone- as if that it was foolish to be headed down alone. Most people are afraid of the dark. it suits me all good..
the path is thin and with thick over growth of trees, moonlit couldn't penetrate all the space. My eyes have to peer more, walking down some half hour odd, i find that the path lands bang in front of the temple entrance, its open, though there is no one outside, all food article related stuff strewn about, a single pepsi stall-i head inside and pay obesience. Its a small temple and the deity looks very pretty. I go around and explore the entire area, there was no connectivity on the hill and soon i was getting apprehensions whether i would meet my friend on this hillock anytime this night. I take the exit through the road (the 10 km up hill stretch)- leading back to the intial crossroad- the path was long but i felt that i could walk it fast on plain surface than to climb through the thick jungle path.
I start back, on a sombre and sober note. Its a long desolate stretch which goes on top of this huge set of hills, As i walk - perhaps the night and the weariness had taken over- but i get more and more attuned and freaked out. There is no light at many many places on the road- because the jungle is way to thick on the edges- weird jungle noises dont make the best companion on a lonely walk. Though i never find jungles/nature dangerous- only the desolate brings about fear from other humans. Humans are baseless animals.
I focus my mind on things divine, and walk with a constant stride. At one place- i get mesmerized, nearly one fourth way down, at a curve-loads of noise, rustling and the tree shaking completely- my mind understands that it might be an elephant- but the time when i catch the tusk and mind you only the tusk glistening in the moonlight- i get very very freaked- a rogue elephant and i wont have to be crushed- can very well die with a heartattack before the onslaught. The tree which was being shook so violently was some 4-5 metres away from the road, i run and how!
Later on the path- i got an amazing view of a picture postcard stag with awesome antlers- he came on to the road with i guess some 2-3 females. I just moved from the side, they were used to humans i guess, and they didnt get bothered. The stag represented true royal jungle charm. Animals in their element are out of the world. The forest which i had walked through might be looking some thing quite different in the day time, but by night it was its element-very eery and very peaceful at the same conflicting time. The hills were alive with power, believe you me. They radiated so much more this special night. The lake near the temple glistened with magic, the path radiated moon light. The sounds were the rhythm of my own heart. The walk and its solitude, the creepy vibes with the power that goddess gives, it is its own reward.
My spirit was captured in that walk, it became a part of the beauty, the subtle love of that hill. Something so beautiful, out of the world. only the goddess can show. I felt good to have given my trust to goddess, and chandi never ever fails. True love for the child.
When I head back and finally tire to reach the cross road - an awesome site to behold- both my friends united come together from the other side of the road and we meet up. Very beautiful coincidence.. I find out that my friends were just chilling and had just reached this cross road- by the time i had gone and prayed and had come back some 10 km. how time is changed when goddess takes over!
The time is some 4 in the morning, we are the only ones on that hill- ones who are awake atleast. the moon sets in behind the hills, i remember the blood red moon and it drowning just awakened something awesome in me. We go to the other side of the hill where the fort is, and it being closed- we just take a round in its periphery. We head back down in a while, and by the time the sun had risen, we had reached back to the bathing ghats- a subtle experience in alwar the day i arrived. Day 2 was even better :)


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