I was shafted onto a bus – told I was relying too much on English and made to sink or swim for three days where English tourists are rare in an ancient part of the country.
So began three days in Trimbakeshwar and Nashik. India’s second largest river, the Gandavar, begins in the nearby mountains and ceremonies and temples have existed here for millennia, including ritual bathing an the floating of candles and flowers out into the waters..
My stay was in rooms attached to the home of a priest. He had expressed reservations because – as is displayed at the temple gate – only Hindu’s are allowed. There is concern that I may be monsahari, a meat eater,and pollute the temple. Being a vegetarian (shaktahari) had its advantages! Still the telephone debate lasted some time until my Indian family, from the Giri, or priestly Brahmin caste, pulled rank and told the priest he was a “common Brahmin” and do as he was told.
I was little shocked as I knew nothing of this t the time, but enjoyed a meditative and reflective few days.
Peoples devotion was obvious. The enclosed waters so strongly scented, to almost sickly sweetness, I was surprised men and women stripped to bathe away the past, a towel modestly held before them. Not all were so covered – even a woman – but in the purity of devotional joy there is nothing but innocence.,
Photographs are forbidden inside, with the intricate “fancy edge” between time and space, eternity and infinity, a microcosmic fractal of archetypal images on the outer walls.
I returned unscathed.