It was a peaceful Sunday morning, but my mind was anything but ready for examinations which were just weeks off. A mobile at hand and a traveling mind, combination enough for whims.
I have been meaning to meet an old friend in his native village near Dehradun.
Being born in the land of Sharavan Aseem have followed suit and left his fledgling career in Delhi to head back to his parents living here in this small village. I was intrigued to learn as to how a town boy with long stint at metro was holding up to a village life.
“Those who love to travel don’t wait for opportunities to unravel”
Now I am not usually irresponsible leaving exams preparations behind like that but that day I wanted to, and within a few minutes we decided to head off to ‘Lakha Mandal’.
Lakha Mandal of Ramayana’s (Laksha Graha) लाक्ष्य गृह fame. I wanted to go thereafter reading Himanshu’s blog and especially after watching the ‘metal murals’ on the temple door as designs interest me quite a lot.
When you have to choose quickly you do not pick favourites so in the order of accessibility I collected a GPS, a wristwatch, wallet, car keys and left. I turned right from NH72 towards Sahasrapur small town ahead of Selaqui where I had to pick a path to his village. I reached there in about 35 mins and caught up with him waiting for me at the road side, pleasantries exchanged, and we were on our way.
It is an experience when we look at ourselves through the eyes of time, that the place we were born, the life we had led and the life we are into now, realization sets in to see ourselves and our lives and we learn more about ourselves.
This is not an everyday occurrence and as soon as we are lead into our daily routine most of this view shrinks to day-to-day survival of busy life. And that is one of the reasons I like to travel time and again.
The path which we drove through was a 6 feet damar road which evidently never saw ‘road roller’. Good thing was that this route meets up with the ‘Chakrata> Yamuna Bridge’ skipping Kalsi and Dakpathar entirely, the map on the right doesn’t show it as Google map does not have necessary details in the ‘Map overlay’ though it is visible in ‘satellite overlay’ mode. I think this path is a good alternative to the Mussorie>Yamuna Bridge>Lakha Mandl route.
So there we were chasing time to reach Lakha Mandal and at the same time moving through all the memories of our school-days, teacher’s beatings, fights, glorious moments in sports, girls, swimming in rainwater collected in large parts of our football field, licking the sweet sour lime powder that came in poly tubes and what not. That topic was a big part of the travel until we stopped at a curious sign board that is the world in Garhwali loosely means ‘plantation in valley’.
We stopped again at Yamuna Bridge and had a plate of Maggie though neither of us was hungry as such.
I have known Aseem the boy for major part of our pre-board life and here I listened to Aseem who was turning away from the adolescent, yet still loaded with those childish ‘born free’ favours one of them being motor biking that he have acquired recently. Then of course there was a long chat on his attempts at few business ventures on his own in this village with mixed responses.
We have just crossed Kwua and were looking for a bridge over river Yamuna to left.
Dehradun> Saharspur> Solan> Yamuna bridge> Nain Bagh> Kuwa> Lakhamandal.
The bridge is nothing fancy, old school tough BRO iron girders interlock; you can easily confuse it with every other bridge of same type given that nothing indicates it points to Lakhamandal.
From here on the temple was about 4kms but rainy season sees lots of debris falling from hills. We reached the base of Lakha Mandal temple and to make sure the regulations of temples in hills, kept all things of leather such as belts and wallets back in the car which is safe enough here and left for the temple which is hardly 100 meters from road.
The entrance is fantastic since the temple is high above the hillock so the stairs leading up to it are just lovely, build excitement and then directly lead you to it. My first impression was that of disappointment as I recall put simply I had imagined it a lot bigger, but then I cannot put my finger from where that impression came to me. Being there for some time got me thinking about the magnificent stone architecture of the temple and the surroundings which came up nearly 5th century A.D.
A local student has now come up to us being an unofficial guide, and he took us around temple showing the exit of the cave that Pandava’s used to exit Lakshagraha as well as a Shivaling in which one can see the reflection as it were a mirror but that only after pouring water over the Shiv Linga. This temple is ASI or archaeological survey of India protected site, and they have a small office within the temple complex.
We had an interest in visiting Lakshagraha which was nearby 2kms or so but due to lack of time decided against it. It was 4pm already, and we needed to head back 120 km to Dehradun that would mean reaching home at around 8:30 pm.
In return trip Aseem talked about his life events leading up to his coming back from Delhi a tale both nostalgic and enduring somewhat how Pandavas felt like when their palace made up of Lac was burned while they were inside it.
The whole gamut of his past years after our separation from school-day was a lot of stuff to soak in, funny nostalgic and enduring.
It was probably the most suited ending of any trip I have ever been into.