"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be." - Patanjali

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sidbari II

To the person who knows a little bit of a little bit about India, Sidhbari is best described as being close to Dharamshala, the town closest to the Dalai Lama's temple and residence, McLeod Ganj.
 

To (s)he who knows nothing about India, Sidhbari, Dharamshala and McLeod Ganj are situated in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, at heights varying between 1100m (Sidhbari) and 1770m (McLeod Ganj) above sea-level.
 

About one kilometer from Sidhbari, lies the ashram of Swami Chinmayanda, Tapovan. Right next to Tapovan, down a long rocky path sided by a forest whose eminent resident is a cheetah, is the Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development - CORD.
 

Tapovan regularly hosts camps run by various Swami's, and is currently at the beginning stages of a Brahmachari course in Hindi (as compared to the same course run in English at the Powai ashram in Bombay). So with regular events such as camps and talks, there is ample accommodation within the complex. I am in room 130 (ekh-sou-theese in Hindi!) in the Hanuman building, named as such because a gigantic statue of Hanuman is adjacent to the rooms. At the entrance of the building is the path which passes by the Samadhi of Swami Chinmayanda.

 
In the far distance behind the Samadhi lie the lower snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. If the range is followed to the left, the eye will grace Dharamshala, and then higher up, McLeod Ganj.

 
From the Samadhi a small pathway ambles toward the statue of Hanuman, opening to a courtyard. On the left is the kutia of Swami Chinmayananda, and as the path takes a right turn, there lies a large hall for discorses and so on. Opposite the hall is the dining room. On the right, after the hall, are more accommodation blocks. At the end of the pathway is the Ram mandir.

 
Throughout the ashram are plentiful trees, gardens and lawns.Tapovan in it's entirety, is a luscious peaceful abode, where the quiet reigns, and the vision of one man comes to life.

 
All of the above is an unsuccessful attempt at trying to describe the surrounds of Tapovan. I've purposely kept the description strictly factual, and not tried to convey the ambience, only because its best experienced in person and, try as you may, no number of words, or pictures from any angle, will do justice.

 
The room I am in is simple and plain. As soon as one enters, the tiled room feels about half the size of my bedroom in Sydney. On the immediate right of the entrance is the door of the bathroom and beyond that, a large window with views of the Samadhi and then the mountain range. On the opposite wall of the front door, is the entrance to an enclosed balcony, which faces the road leading to CORD.

 
In terms of furniture the room consists of two individual beds with mattresses, the heads of which are beneath the mountain-facing window; on the opposite wall, a wooden, meter-long rectangular table with a plastic garden chair; and next to the table, a small four level rack, which, with an abundance of cupboards, I would use for shoes. Given that I don't have that luxury, it's home to, no, not clothes - they lie on the unused bed in pile similar to the mountains in the background - but to books: apart from my dear Lonely Planet and the less-dear Eyewitness to India, I have Hindi-English and English-Hindi dictionaries, a Teach Yourself Hindi guide, and three or four novels, which I picked up in Jaipur.

 
Three of the walls are plain and unmarked. The one which the rack and table lean against are adorned with two pictures of Gurudev, a mirror and a series of hooks.
All in all, given the number of hotel rooms I've stayed in over the past month, were I a hotelier, I would quite easily charge rs.300 or rs.350 per night. It's neat, comfortable and very unfussy.

6 comments:

Jayasindhya said...

umm i dono who u r ... but i study at chinmaya n hav visited siddabari n can tell u its one truly awesome place:) hope u agree

Hrishi said...

Jayasindhya: I'm a CHYK from Sydney Australia, who was fortunate enough to spend the best part of 4 months there...I hope to keep coming back every couple of years to witness the beauty...

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