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The Vaishnodevi Experience 2023

My first trip to Vaishnodevi was unimpressive. Climbing was hard, and it only served to highlight how badly out of shape I was, while my in-laws managed to cope so much better. Further, I hadn’t quite realized that the cave experience wouldn’t be the same as I had imagined, since the original cave was only opened at certain times a year, and that we only entered a newly created tunnel, one far easier to access, and hence more manageable with the crowds that thronged the mountain shrine. The resulting experience at the shrine, for barely a fraction of a second, hardly compared to what I had expected / imagined / heard about. So, for me, Vaishnodevi was like any other temple, nothing to write home about, something that was reflected (though not explicitly mentioned) in the blog post I wrote then.

A Hectic Weekend - Three Days at the Landmark Forum

I have just got through my most hectic weekend ever! What did I do? Well, I attended the Landmark Forum. Never heard of it? I hadn’t too, till last month, when my husband attended it, and convinced me to try it out too…..

It is too difficult to express in words exactly what the Forum is, or what it does, and I can only say what they tell us in their brochures – that they help us ‘transform’ our lives. Yes, ‘transform’, not ‘change’. They also assure us that we can open up infinite possibilities for ourselves.  So I am sure your next question is: “Did they live up to their promise?” Well, I am not hedging when I say that I am not quite sure as of now. What they have managed to do, is make me think – about myself, my family, my perceptions… everything that is part of my life. They have made me rethink my image of myself, and have certainly opened up new avenues of thought. As to the actual transformation, it is something I have to do myself, obviously. Whether I am able to hold on to all I have gained in the last three days and actually make the transformation, remains to be seen!

The kind of things the forum talks about is nothing new. The concepts are there in our scriptures, in our sacred texts, in the various programmes for better living – Art of Living, Vipassana, Isha Yoga, Yoga and meditation….. Not to mention many many more…. What the Landmark forum does is, working in a very efficient, corporate-like manner, condense into three full days (9AM-11PM, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) all these concepts, and force to make you think about all those things in a very practical manner. You just cannot help thinking when you are in a room full of people from morning to night, and people start opening up and talking about their problems. Either you relate to them, and see yourself in those situations, or you feel that your life is much better than so many others’. This is what actually changes your perception, for you, for the first time, look at things from an angle other than your own.

Well, apart from such serious life-changing topics, let me get to something which I loved about my three day experience. First of all, I got to meet some really interesting people…. One of whom even offered me a job! But the best of all was the fact that I got to re-live my college days, leaving home early in the morning and travelling by train. Watching the sun rise over the skyscrapers was something I hadn’t done for over eight years, and with my camera, I managed to get quite a few shots through the train window, inviting curious glances from my co-passengers, who evidently realized that I was not one of the regulars!!!

Looking at VT station as the train draws near is something I have always loved and I eagerly waited with my camera to capture the Lady of Progress as she first showed herself atop the beautiful heritage structure. Imagine my disappointment when I couldn’t see her, and then realized that she was covered for renovation! So much for the desire of lifetime…. But walking through the Azad Maidan filled with youngsters playing cricket at the early hour was a sight to remember… the enthusiasm of the kids was infectious, and I really made the most of it!

The best portion of the three days was the time I spent at Marine Drive, just sitting and watching the waves in between completing the assignments I had been given... Here are a few shots of the most beautiful stretch of sea and road in Bombay!

P.S. If you want to know more about the Landmark Forum, check out the following websites:


  1. I think you have attended you have attended some sort of work shop where they make you think and look within as where you stand today. I have also attended many such workshops and they are really helpful.

  2. Sounds like a very productive weekend. Nice pictures.

  3. Looks like a well spent weekend. Glad you enjoyed it. Pics are good.

  4. This is truly amazing Deepa. I am a Landmark Forum graduate as well. Did my forum in 2007 and went on to complete the Advanced Course and the Self Expression and Leadership program in 2009. I can only say that transformation lies within and I have discovered a completely different dimesion to my life because of the forum. :) I am really happy for you.

  5. Hey Anu, All three of us 'i.e. my daughter (ideasmithy), my husband and I did the Landmark Forum way back in 1999. My daughter has done advance & self expression & leadership programme. Like you aptly said it is quite difficult to explain what is landmark Forum , but speaking for myself, I feel I have gained so much from it that I feel everyone should do landmark forum.
    Beautiful pictures .

  6. I dont know about this forum.. but I've attended one called 'firing on all cylinders'... which was simply awesome!! they dont tell you anything you dont already know... but kind of opens your eyes to new things...

    Glad you had a good time!!

  7. I can so relate to attending such workshop, for they leave us exhausted by the end of it, it feels like great at first and then dials down, we feel well worked !

    If not for anything it makes us appreciate good things like watching the sunset travelling in the train and look at you , u had lovely time even sitting at marina :)
    Good for u :)
    And as for the job is concerned double check, may be that person is all hiped up in the conference and gave those words :)

  8. Awesome
    I like the way you detatch yrself and give a perspective to things
    I love to see the world through your eyes...allways keeps me wondering why i dont see it as well...haha
    was planning to do the LF course back in Blore...may be some day

  9. Getting pushed into thinking is the best thing that can come from such an event.

    The seas off Marine Drive, as serene as ever.

  10. @Chitra: well, this is the first time i am attending any such thing...and i did enjoy lets see how much it actually affects my life :)

    @Mridula: Oh yes, it was.... and thanks....

    @Jayasree: yes, certainly a productive weekend... unlike others....

    @Sanguine: thats great manni! and I had absolutely no idea!!!! and here i was searching for info about it..... but yes, there is a lot of change that i see..but unfortunately, i cant do the advanced course right now since i cant leave samhith again..... lets see in some time...

    @hobbitt: thats so great! now i realise i know so many more people who can relate to me.....

    @Patricia: i see u get what i mean... this was just like u say.... and i really enjoyed it!!

    @Sri: u are so right!!! i had the same feeling too..... and about the job, well, see, since i dont really need it, I can afford to think about it.. but yes, i agree.. i am going to do a lot more checking up before taking anything up

    @ssstoryteller: thanks so much.... do go for the course..... it really does wonders...

    @Anil: very true... left to ourselves, we would never think.....
    and Marine Drive was really the best part of the 3 days

  11. Wonderful post. I think the best part is that you got a change from daily routine. Change sometimes helps.

  12. Hi,

    I like the way you described your experience, Very well said.

    This is what I exactly discovered about myself.

    Many thanks for putting up in such nice words.


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