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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.

And I am back!

I am back from my Diwali trip... and what a trip it has been, memorable for more reasons than I can count! 

We kept to our aim of sticking to public transport, so buses it was, all the way... Well, almost, except for the times we splurged on auto ridesJ. This was the trip when Samhith finally learnt not just to cope with, but also enjoy, travelling by local buses...

He learnt to wriggle in amidst the crowd waiting to get in, find, and reserve us seats! He was impressed when a woman called him to share her seat when he didn’t find one, and when he did find one, he made me proud by giving it up to an old man who was standing in the aisle.

This was a trip of simple pleasures... such as sipping water from a pouch (something I haven’t seen in a long time)...

Of home cooked, and tasty food...

Of living in temple accommodation, which, by the way, was far better than some of the hotels I have been in!

Of a quiet Diwali with oil lamps taking the place of glaring electric bulbs....

Of bursting crackers with boys on the street...

This was the trip when people in rickety buses made place for us to sit, to keep our bags comfortably... and our co-passengers in the 3 tier AC coach refused to exchange seats with us, because they ‘couldn’t send their over-15-year-old children to sleep alone on the other side of the same coach’, and expected a 9 year old to do so! This was the first time that Samhith realised that affluence makes people less ready to compromise... to help others... and to share... and hopefully this will help him hold on to the values I try to inculcate in him....

This was a special trip for me too... I completed a journey which began almost 23 years ago.. a journey which began at Kashi, at the Vishwanath Temple, and ended at Parali, at the Vaijnath Temple... Along the route, this journey took me to 12 sacred shrines of Shiva.. the 12 sacred Jyotirling Temples...

But above all, this was a journey so typical of India – nature and religion so wound together, that they are impossible to separate. And nowhere was it more apparent than at our final destination – the Lonar Crater...

I am bursting with ideas and thoughts... there are so many, that I wonder if I will ever manage to organise them and put them down... but I have to try, to do justice to the experiences we had on this trip! 

P.S. All the photos except the last, have been clicked with my mobile phone. 


  1. Have to do this with Chhavi sometime as well. She thinks flying is the only way to travel! Even though she has been on a rickety bus she was too small to remember!

    Loved your account Anu. Waiting for more.

    1. Thanks Mridula.. before we left on this trip, when I was trying to explain to Samhith why we were going by bus, he asked me "If you wanted me to get used to buses, why did you take me by cars all these years?" explaining that we wanted him to be comfortable when he was younger didnt really convince him, till he saw for himself how much fun it was travelling by bus... and now he agrees that its far more fun.. and its fine to travel by bus, so dont worry.. chhavi will get used to it too, no matter at what age you start taking her along.. whether it is on your long treks or rickety buses!

  2. Glad to know that you had an awesome Diwali. Looking forward to your travel stories.

  3. Anu,
    As I said earlier too, you are inculcating excellent values in him. And he will sure become a good human being.
    Looking fwd to your stories. :)

  4. So it was really a learning trip for Samhit. Yes Anu I also learnt that affluence many times makes people intolerant.

    1. Yes, indeed, PNS. it was a learning trip for Samhith! and I certainly am hoping he learns tolerance, because that is one thing lacking in most people these days!

  5. Amazing~!

    love your ideas

    What a happy boy I can see there!

    1. Thanks Sowmya! yes, he was indeed a happy boy... thank god!

  6. What a caring son. Love that wonderful last shot.

    1. Wow!! This is called as "TRIP"... a complete trip with different experiences... Even I went many places in Kerala by public transport ( even govt run boats in Kerala) .. we ll learn a lot..

      U r lucky that u visited all 12 jyothirlinga.And having memorable Diwali.... Dr.A

  7. Loved photos too... Specially , samhith standing in bus.. his expressions shows everything:-)... Dr.A

    1. Thanks so much, Dr.A! I so agree.. its so much fun and we learn so much when we use public transport!

  8. Nice one. Good article. Good to see Samhith getting comfy (as you say, learnt to wriggle) with travelling in local buses. My boy has travelled in a car only once recently two weeks back and we have always travelled in buses and WE JUST LOVE IT. He enjoys travelling even long distance in a government bus. Luxury buses were our favourite in the past and we have taken many trips alone and nowadays, little boy is enjoying the government buses too. Can't explain how much me and my boy enjoy local bus rides, hence I had to stop by and comment. Lovely, bus journeys are so beautiful, that too the Non AC ones in which we can feel the lovely breeze.

    1. Thanks Prabha! Samhith has travelled mostly by car, though we did take him by bus in the south a couple of times. the reason is that we mostly travel with my in laws, and since they have travelled enough by bus all these years, we usually hire a car... its only when the three of us are alone that we consider other modes of transport, and then again, most of the time we go to such distant and unknown locations that its easier and faster to hire a car.. or an auto..:D which is why i felt it was high time he got used to buses.. and again, its only such trips where we have loads of time and few places to visit, and its only the three of us, so such chances are limited :D

  9. Samhith's expression encapsulates your entire post :-D


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