It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why, when the British seized India in 1858, they called it the ‘jewel in the crown’! At that time India had exotic spices, textiles, many precious gems, and a huge army -which the British used to control their empire!
Setting history and political debate aside, India, in my opinion, is undoubtedly a jewel in the crown of the world! India is so vast and varied, that it has just about everything that the rest of the world has to offer, except that it’s all in one place. From delicious tasting foods, to awe inspiring landscapes and terrains, to multi-cultural ethnicity and racial harmony, to innovative science and technology, all set within a tapestry of history which has been incredibly rich, dramatic, colourful, and romantically powerful.
Each time I return to India I fall in love with it more and more. This time my travels took me to the Himalayan mountains of Kullu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Northern India. Manali is named after the Sanatan Hindu lawgiver Manu, being a derivative of ‘Manu-Alaya’: literally ‘the abode of Manu’. Manali lies in the North of Kullu Valley which is often referred to as the ‘Valley of the Gods’. Legend has it that sage Manu stepped off his ark in the area to recreate human life after a great flood had deluged the world. The old Manali village has an ancient temple dedicated to sage Manu.
In fact, almost every Himalayan mountain is named after a god or goddess. And every mountain is held sacred to Hindus. Some mountains are so revered by the Indians that the government prevent mountaineers from climbing them, and therefore disrespecting them.
After Manali (at 2200 metres) we went up another 2300 metres into the village of Lossar in the heart of Spiti Valley – known as the chilliest village in Spiti. There is something incredibly amazing about being several thousand meters above everything and everyone! Something pure, enriching, and powerfully soul-stirring. The deep silence and stillness is absolutely beyond anything that words can express. In these sublime conditions, it is just so easy to have meditation and be at one with yourself and the universe.
No wonder that, for thousands of years, sages and saints have retreated to the mountain tops for silence, liberation and enlightenment. The high-altitude energy enables one to easily connect with God and to experience other realms effortlessly. I strongly suggest if you haven’t done so yet, that you take time out to be with yourself on such a mountain setting. You owe it to yourself.
The local people live simple lives. They smile a lot. They are deeply content in some way. Their day is filled with routine, but they have ample time in between to just sit and be, and people watch!
Life slows down up there. There is nowhere to rush to, and no added stress. Many of them have to walk between towns along windy hilly mountain roads, so everything takes time. Yet they are tolerant, patient and forgiving, as there is no public transport to rely on. It truly is another world that runs at a different pace.
As we take a closer look at the landscapes, there is a feeling of ancient civilizations having once habited these places. The stone and rock formations seem to have been carvings of some kind. Whether they are man-made or naturally crafted, it is hard to know, as they have such an ethereal quality to them. All in all the landscapes certainly put us in awe of the grandeur and majesty of mother nature.
Wifi is restricted up there, which is a really good thing. One would be so tempted to Google for more info, or forward a photograph on What’s App, Twitter or Instagram in the moment, which would completely break the mystical, magical, transcendental spell of this dreamlike place.
All you can do is be with yourself and in awe of the beautiful environment that surrounds you, which is a truly a wonderful thing to do. Nothing brings you back to yourself so completely. It’s no wonder that people have been making treks and pilgrimages to these sacred places for thousands of years.
It’s time… to go up and up and beyond!
© ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK