A Pilgrimage is an emotional and spiritual journey into the realm of the unknown, unexpected and unexplored.

Padh Yatra was one such pilgrimage for me. It was  a three day journey to Palampur, Himachal Pradesh.

Even before going to Palampur, I had some kind of connect towards the place the reason being that my brother had spent his early childhood there. Before I was even born , my brother being 1 year old was fortunate enough to live in Palampur for a few years.

The pictures I often saw in the album of Palampur ; it’s beauty and snow filled landscape intrigued me and I always had this longing to visit it.

So, when the idea of Padh Yatra came up, I was very excited to be a part of it so much that I reached an hour early at the ISBT ( Inter-State Bus Terminal) in New Delhi.

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This Padh Yatra was comprised of people coming together from different walks of life. I only knew two or three people having met them a year ago. I had my own inhibitions of whether I will be accepted by ‘strangers’,  if I would be able to adjust with them ; let alone talking  to them.

I am a person who has always come across as shy and reserved.

This trip, however, changed me.

Arriving one hour early, I decided to roam around the place. I walked into the streets of Delhi and experienced the hustle bustle of the city, it’s crowded markets, historical forts, universities and churches.
It felt overwhelming to be amidst the crowd and to walk mindlessly in the dingy streets in the hot weather.

Life, had become quite boring and frustrating. I felt like I was trapped and I needed to get OUT!

As I boarded the bus, my excitement level was getting at its peak. I was returning ‘home’  finally after twenty years.

Padh Yatra – the journey of love, trust, understanding and acceptance moved me so much that it just made me cry, laugh and smile at the same time. The beautiful scenery, the freshness of the air, the chill breeze, icy cold river water and then the rays of the sun giving us warmth felt like heaven.

IMG_20160411_101416Walking silently in barefoot on the first day for 45 minutes made me realize all those things that I had been missing. There has always been a deep longing  inside my heart that craved to be one with nature. Listening to the melodies of the birds, the music of the river, the sound of the breeze felt so good. It was like the nature was welcoming me back.

 

Even as the thorns pricked me , the pain was nothing compared to the one I always felt back in the city.

The goats and sheep that flocked the mountains were a delightful sight.
I got a chance to caress them and show them my love.
The shepherds I met while climbing the mountain were all very welcoming. They shared their little stories with me.

IMG_20160411_144422‘Life in the mountains is not easy but how wonderful it is’

It made me think deep and I realized that in life when I fail, when everything I have or thought I had would be lost ; nature, is one home I can always go back to.

The fellow travellers of the Padh-Yatra who I can proudly call “dost” will always have a special place in my heart. For their love and support. For accepting me just the way I am.

Coming from diverse backgrounds we got together and got along so well that it felt like we knew each other for ages. Kindness, compassion, empathy and above all the love which was emanating from each one of you made the Yatra a truly memorable experience.

With heavy heart I bid goodbye to my ‘home’  with a promise to be back soon.

The secrets I shared with nature will be safe forever.