THE MIGHTY HIMALAYAS: Photo Feature by Piku Chowdhury

Piku Chowdhury
The above excerpt from the Skanda Purana states that human sins are absolved by the sight of the mighty Himalayas, like dew drops naturally evaporating in the radiant sunbeams. The excerpt displayed outside the Government tourist lodge in Munsiyari, Uttarakhand, gives an apt description of the divine bliss that illuminates the soul as we stand awestruck and humbled in the mighty presence of the eternally snow clad reticent mystic Himalayas, believed to be the abode of mighty deities and endless mysteries. Be it the Nanda Devi, the Sleeping Buddhha or the Pancha Chulli, mythologically held to be Draupadi’s divine oven for her five husbands [Mahabharata] or alternatively the gateway to greater Kailash – the abode of Viswanath Shiva [ the Lord of the Realms], the ever silent majestic snow clad peaks have remained a source of succour, solace, peace and rejuvenation for me over the years. Source of perennial rivers, cradling the finest of human civilizations, and cradle of enlightenment for many a hermit, the Himalayas remain the “nagadhiraj” or the king of mountains, resplendent with a beauty that ignites the perceptual manifold into a spiritual consciousness. This album remains a humble story of my encounters with the mighty slopes. 

In hard times of fatigue triggered by urban manipulative verbosity , an encounter with the pristine white slopes at Chaukori , Uttarakhand, heralded a pilgrimage of the soul to be redeemed and revived at the Pindari glacier trek. The setting sun set the slopes of the gorgeous Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot, and the Panchachuli peaks on fire as I drove into the KMVN [Kumayun Mondol Vikas Nigam] cottage in Chaukori.

Nanda Devi gleamed in the radiant morning the next day as I set off for Munsiyari, the starting point of the Pindari glacier trek and the holy shrine of Nanda Devi worshipped as a Goddess. 

Munsiyari was my next destination in Uttarakhand that grants a panoramic view of the Panchchulli (Panch = five, chulli = ovens) range, mythologically believed to be the divine oven of Draupadi of Mahabharata, and also the gateway to greater Kailash – the abode of Visheswara Lord Shiva- the Lord of the three realms. 

Next stop was the mysterious verdant depths of the Wild Life Sanctuary at Binsar that reveals the glorious peaks of Kamet, Nanda Ghunti, Trishul 1, 2, 3, Mrigtuni, Maiktoli, Nanda Devi, Nanda Devi East or Sunanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Chaukhamba. The spectacle of the golden crown at the first kiss of the sunrays early next day was almost a spiritual experience that numbed the soul with awe. The glittering white brilliance later in the day, blessed with a crispy clear weather, was no less.

The dense flora in this region harbours many a poisonous snake and they are worshipped as the benevolent diety Naga Deva – the eternal companion of Lord Shiva. Quite a few serene shrines were spotted during my forays into the deserted nooks of the sleeping hamlet. 

The reticent splendour of the grand Himalayas can be felt at the Himachal as well. A glimpse of the great slopes from the well-known tourist spot of Manali offers an ethereal blend of spirituality and beauty. The magnificent chiaroscuro on the snowclad slopes resound with gong of cymbals, dholaks and trumpets as “Bashisht ki Palki” is escorted by the Holy Priest along the vistas. I thank my luck for being able to witness such a grand holy procession resonant with synchronized chantings amidst bright colourful banners with the grand Himalayas standing tall like divine beings all around. The holy men drooping with ganja and snake charmers with enticing tales of the Naga deva [snake god] add a charming edge to the whole experience.

Various religions have perceived divinity in the grand Himalayas in their quest for peace and salvation. The Sleeping Buddha from Sandakphu in North Bengal remains a Buddhist interpretation of the redeeming charm of the great mountains. North or Northeast, the great Himalayas surmounts the frontiers of aesthetic and geographical magnificence and blends with the spiritual quest of the quintessential ancient Indian perception; a quest that is perpetuated in variegated forms by the modern soul amidst the blinding glare of surface clutter and sick hurry and divided aims of modern life. A quest perpetuated by a DSLR and strangely fulfilled by the unconditional Grace of the mighty Himalayas.

BIO-NOTE: Dr. Piku Chowdhury teaches in a post graduate Govt. aided college and serves as a Research guide, Editor, Author, painter, translator, singer, poet, photographer, mental health facilitator.

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