Travelling is not always about visiting destinations, but also experiencing events. Kumbh Mela, one of the India’s oldest and biggest event in history was this time in Nasik. To visit this place, I had to travel nearly a total of 600kms in one day from Mumbai.
I woke up early morning to catch a train of Tapovan express at 6:40 am from Dadar. A general compartment ticket had cost me just 90 bucks.
But it was a horrific experience! As expected, the general compartments were full and super crowded. (I am sorry to say this for those who may feel offended) The crowd was pretty uncivilized. People were finding their place and sitting on the luggage space above window, hanging stuffs on the grills of fan, sitting on the top of the entry/exit door of the train and whatnot. On the top of it the crowd was a mixture of Maharashtrian and UPs. People were fighting for silly reasons, all around me. If they did not find any space, they sit down on the floor leaving no space for leg moment. My legs got fried standing in the same position for the 3 hour journey.
I started regretting and thinking that even before starting the journey I’m experiencing Kumbh for what it is famous for, crowd!
As soon as I got down at Nasik, the climate dramatically changed. I was feeling much refreshed with the cool breeze and comfortable environment. There were herds of police standing everywhere to control the crowd and because of them there was zero chaos. I had to go Trimbakeshwar which was 15 kms away. There were well marked directions from the platform itself to guide the tourist coming for Kumbh. As soon as I got out of the station, there was a bus waiting to take people all the way till Trimbakeshwar especially for pilgrims. It was comfortable enough for a cozy one hour sleep.
The road towards Trimbakeshwar
Nasik is much like Pune where it is rapidly getting urbanized, but still has a pleasant climate due to the surrounding mountains and sticking to its ground culture. There were several religious organizations providing free services for the pilgrims coming to Kumbh. At various spots they were providing water and lime juice in the bus. The bus dropped us to a spot near Ajneri. From here we had to walk more 4 kms to reach Trimbakeshwar.
I started walking, there was a friend waiting for me at Trimbakeshwar. Police had a good control over crowd but they were stopping the public at various places. They made many straight paths also lengthy. This made everyone very impatient and angry.
I reached the guest house where my friend was staying. He, along with his other friends recommended me to go towards Juna Akhada where all Naga Baba’s were residing. After all, the temple will be there if I come again. But not those Baba’s.
The first sight of Naga baba’s
Juna Akhada is a temple situated on a mountain top. It has a Trishul big enough to be visible from a distance. As soon as I enter the starting point, there was a Bhojnalai providing free food for the pilgrims. I had my lunch there and I must say it was very good. This Bhojnalai is situated on the right side of the entry point of Juna Akhada with the name itself ‘Bhojnalai’.
Trimbakeshwar city from top
After lunch I went further and I started to see 100s of Naga Baba’s one after the other. Their naked body covered full of white ash, their long dreadlocks and a chillam in their hand made them distinctive. They are quite, they are fearless, they are weird. Yet, they are attractive.
I was warned that they do not allow to get themselves clicked and if you want a picture than they demand money. Another way is that they just call you and put some ash on your forehead as a symbol of Lord Shankar forcefully. And then they demand ‘Dakshina’ (Money) from you. Anyways, I asked permission from some baba’s before clicking them and they happily allowed me. There was one particular Baba, who was calling everyone to put some ask on the forehead and then demanding money. I tried to strike a conversation with him and here is what we spoke –
Me – Jai bhole nath.
Baba – jai bhole nath, aur beta kaise ho?
Me – bas badiya, baba aapse kuch sawal puchna chahta hu.
Baba – zarur, pucho!
Me – aap itne lambe baal, bina kapde aur chillam maarte ho, kya issliye ki bhagwan shiv bhi aise the?
Baba – ha beta, aap karte kya ho?
Me – kuch nai bas idhar udhar ghumta rehtahu, muje pura duniya ghumna he.
Baba – achha arre wha to tum bhi kyu nai harame jaise ban jate, mere pass aa jao me tumhe tumhare iss pant shirt se mukti dila dunga!
Me – haha…nahi shukriya, aapko ek aur sawal puchna tha, log kumbh me apna paap dhone aate he. Aapko to pehle hi moksh he fir aapko kya zarurat kumbh me aaneki?
Baba – beta hum yahape khudke liye nai, puri duniya ka paap dhone aate he. Tum jab paida bhi nai huve the, hum tabse kumbh me ja rahe he.
Me – achha. Aap dusre shai snaan me rahoge?
Baba – haaji hum tumhe yahi milenge.
Me – shukriya baba (I gave him 10rs and moved on)
yet another baba
I started heading towards the Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple for which lakh’s of people had come to offer their prayers. When I reached there, I saw a huge chaotic crowd and police desperately pushing everyone to move forward. This temple is one of the 12 joti lings. It looked quite ancient. carved out of stone, and it is!
Beautiful carvings on Trimbak temple wall
It had a pond in the middle where people took a dip inside to wash their sins. The water was for obvious reasons not clean. I had left my footwear near a Banyan tree. When I went back to wear it, it was not there! Someone told me that all the unknown footwears are taken to the backside of the temple by the authorities. I went there just to see a huge pile of footwears! I was desperately searching for my sandal, and it took me a good 20 mins. Mission successful! Phew!
I was happy! I was enjoying every moment of this trip and this was only possible because of good arrangements made by Nasik police. It was the occasion of Raksha Bandhan day. Far from their sister’s, they are here just to make sure the journey of pilgrims is smooth. A salute to them!
I wrote a quick letter to the police thanking them for such a brilliant arrangements.
While getting back in the bus I got a companion and we had a good long conversation about trekking and travelling in Marathi. The person was 69 years old but still strong to do any Himalayan trek by his own. Let’s call him T.
T – college madhe aahe ka tu?
M – nahi me ek adventure company barobar kaam karto aani logana aaple saiyadri pahada madhe trekking sathi gheun jato.
T – arre whha tar tu himaliya madhe gelo ka?
M – nahi ajun nahi pan mala karaicha aahe, tumhi gele waatthe?
T – arre khuub! Me dar warshe jato aani kedarkanth me 5 wed kelo aahe. Te mala khub aavadte.
M – tar tumhi konte konte trek kele aahe aani kuthe kuthe india madhe firle?
T – purna 4 dham yatha, khub chote mothe treks himalya madhe aani purna bharat mi firlo aahe.
I was thrilled to meet this 70+ traveler. We talked a lot about various places, family members supporting to travel, and weather a travel planner is necessary or not.
The bus dropped us at a place just before entering the city. From there I walked for an hour just to realize that I am on the wrong bus stand. Somehow I searched my way till Mumbai point. It was already 8 and I was still in Nasik, I mistakenly took a semi luxury bus instead of an ST. The money from my pocket also went out luxuriously. Anyways, comfort also matters sometimes. I met a guy in the bus who was talking with me about all sorts of things like religion, atheism, government, different places, people, career, parental pressure and what not. I asked him his age, he said he was just 15!!!! Wow, I wonder if my brother was so smart then I would probably be hanging around with only him every day.
I was still in the bus at 12:30 am. Looking out of the window enjoying the journey. Then suddenly, the bus stopped with a loud noise of thud at Chembur. The bus can’t go further due to some technical problem, said the conductor. Now I’m stuck at Chembur 1:00am in the night!
With no other option I took a rickshaw till Andheri to reach somehow back.
To my surprise the expenditure fitted my budget exactly!!!
Ps – This adventure was commenced on 29th August, 2015. If you are inspired to go for Kumbh, then the next Kumbh is happening in Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) called as ‘Simhastha Kumbh Ujjain’
Simhastha 2016 will begin on 22nd of April and will continue till 21st of May.
here are the useful links for more details –