2000 Journey to the Source of the Sacred Ganges
This journey began with a travel brochure falling out of a yoga magazine i had just received in the post. The company `Soul of India` were offering a `Journey to the Source of the Sacred Ganges`.
Within a few weeks i had made the reservation to travel alone, but with their assistance, on this my first long distance adventure.
From Heathrow I flew to Delhi wher i spent one night. On a tour of the city my first stop was at the Memorial to Mahatma Gandhi where a group of women were continuing the tradition of hand loom spinning and weaving.
May was a beautiful time to be in Delhi with trees in full blossom.
From Delhi the train carried me to Haridwar and my first glimpse of the river Ganges as we crossed on the way to Rishikesh, just a few miles up river.
My hotel was right on the banks of the river and my room on the second floor faced across to the foothills of the Himalaya.
My car for the journey high into the Himalaya was to be a traditional Ambassadour without a/c (which I would have hated.
Rishikesh has for thousands of years attracted holy men, saints and sadhus, some settling in their huts (kutirs) along the banks of the river and in the surrounding forests and hills. Other pilgrims moved on through the town heading for the high Himalayas and the source of the river Ganges.
Meditating on the bank of the Sacred river.
A favourite ashram for hippies. We were drawn in by the sound of drumming we heard from the street.
Dawn over the river and the first bather reciting his prayers.
In spite of being a `holy` town Rishikesh is also a thriving and busy city. Pilgrims fill the ashrams and hotels, tradesmen, shopkeepers and their customers throng the strees.
One day when my guide could not get to Rishikesh I walked alone into the town. Glimpsing the river and the Niketan Ashram on the opposite bank I went down an alley of steps for a closer look and saw the sadhu who was to become my Sat anad diksha guru.
Naga Baba Maheesh Giri and his chela invited me to join them on the wall and we spent all day talking about the sanatan dharma, and their lives. Finally I agreed to undergo my own initiation into the brotherhood of babas and was given the name Shiv Giri, and title Naga Baba Shiv Giri.
We continued on foot, camping overnight before the final climb to Gaumukh. There I bathed in the river as she burst from her glacier. My guide had brought incense and we rigged up a flat rock altar in the river where we burned the candle and incense. As the smoke drifted over the water I read the names of all the departed I had been given by sponsors from my classes, friends and the Indian community in theW west Midlands of England,. Finally a further climb over the glacier listening to the surging water through the cracks in the ice, and up to the foot of the Shivling mountain.