Hoaaaa...yeh...yes! yes!! yes!!! ...Back from Nasik! After having the dip in first Shahi Snaan - The Royal Bath and that too Royal Way of Kumbh Mela 2015 on 29th August!. Shahi snan is the auspicious day to take a dip in the holy kund.
The singhasth kumbh mela -- I got a chance to stay with the sanyasis or mahants of gaddi suthre shah in their tents built up across the pond of triyambakeshwar temple. The pond was full of fish and one of the activities I enjoyed the most was feeding them. You must be wondering I have heard of these words -- the kumbh Ka mela (the image of siblings getting lost in a bollywood movie of yester years comes up in the mind) but dont know what they mean. What is the meaning of singhasth? What is kumbh mela all about? What is gaddi suthre shah? My upcoming posts will reveal it all and some of the very interesting stories - demystifying various myths about sadhus, tantriks, our religion and culture. I would say this is an experience that can only be lived but will ensure that those who are missing this wonderful culturally enriching journey live it through my posts and photographs.
This one is a quick post mainly about dos & donts and may prove helpful if you are planning a trip to nasik kumbh mela.
Dos and Donts
- Always carry an umbrella and raincoat with you. The weather is fickle there - it can rain any time and then be again as sunny as it was the other second.
- Carry a good pair of walking shoes. You may be required to walk a lot - may be up to 4 kilometers. The places are not far, but police has closed and diverted the routes. On last day I got down in front of railway station and have to walk first 2 kms straight, then u-turn and again 2 kms to reach the platform. I tried to enter from three different entrances, but all were closed. Only the fourth one allowed the cars to come straight to the gate. My bad luck I was not able to hit the fourth one. On your visit, you never know which one is open.
- Try to reach any of the akharas or place of stay 2 days before the shahi snan. Entry for outside vehicles is restricted and you may need to walk long distances with the entire luggage.
- All the maal godowns and storage space on the railway station has been converted into waiting rooms, so ample of space to rest. If you want to capture rural India, culture or sadhus, this is the place for you.
- If you are accompanying elderly people, who are unable to walk long distances, kindly research about your alternate routes to your destination beforehand. Confirm with couple of locals, police or ashram people before making a move. As no one has a concrete and confirm information. However, good part is everyone is very cooperative.
- You do not have to worry about food. There are ample free food kiosks set up by akharas or ashrams. In addition, the local food and delicacies are not very costly. If you are on a lookout for a 5 star, sorry nowhere to eat. The local eateries are very good, neat, clean and hygienic. That is a promise. You might need to pay a small up price for a bottle of coke or mineral water but that can be accomodated for I believe. Given that Nasik is a small village and we can keep that MRP rule only for metros. Also if you are on lookout for branded mineral water like bisleri, himalaya or aqua fina the word is sorry. But you will find good mineral water and not big brands. I drank it and I am now writing this, so it has been tried and tested... :)
- Leave for railway station from your place of boarding with at least 3-4 hours of buffer time in hand. You may struggle to find the mode of transport or weather may play spoilsport.
- Generic stuff such as small knife, rope, first aid kit, etc. to be carried without a say. Also, keep few plastic bags, where you can dump your wet clothes, if you do not find a place or adequate time to dry them.
- Please, Please, Please do not make fun of the sanyasis, sadhus or yogis you come across. Even if you strongly believe that they are dhongis or fake, please don’t unnecessarily indulge with them and try to show them down. They are a very proud lot and will not take offense of any kind. You may find some of them very strange, especially the nagas, but they are like that only. The kumbh mela brings all of them to common platform and people like us get a chance to witness various shades of our culture. Please appreciate the painting with these natural shades and don’t try to paint your own colours. You will love it is my promise.
Disclaimer: I stayed with one of the cult associated with Shri Panchayati Akhara Bada Udasin Nirvan at their shivir at trimbakeshwar. Above is based on personal experiences and beliefs.