“Limitless undying love, which shines around me like a million suns, it calls me on and on across the universe.”– The Beatles
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, love will be at its feverish peak.
I cannot think of a better way to celebrate this beautiful emotion of love than with the Lens – Artists Photo Challenge.
This week, I have the pleasure of guest-hosting it with the theme ‘A Glimpse into your world’. Show us the things you love that makes your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy.
In my case, it was my love for travel and music, namely The Beatles that drew me to the picturesque, riverside town of Rishikesh, India. More on the Fab Four later but first, the evening Ganga Aarti at the Triveni Ghat beckoned me.
It was billed as an ethereal experience. Hence, my presence.
The sun had set and stars twinkled in the endless indigo sky. Eleven priests in rich maroon kurtas, white dhotis and masks, stood on high platforms facing the Ganges. They held huge lighted lamps which they twisted and twirled in perfectly synchronized movements with practiced ease.
Smoke from the fragrant incense bellowed in tufts of clouds into the sky. Some seeped in through a tiny gap in my mask.
My eyes greedily drank the grand spectacle of fire and smoke while the air reverberated with sonorous chants simultaneously.
Was this spiritual trance or blissful love?
The Ganga rippled and gleamed with countless lighted lamps in tiny flower baskets that floated downstream at the end of the aarti.
It was heavenly.
The morning brought fresh adventures in the form of white water rafting.
Actually you heard the screams first. Later you saw the thrill lovers sitting in their dinky red rafts. They preferred holding hands rather than their oars, bouncing on the Ganga rapids.
Downstream, the river became tranquil. There you bobbed in a sea of saffron and yellow robed monks that swarmed Rishikesh’s narrow lanes and wide open river banks.
With a temple in every corner, ghats to go down to the river, it was a town seeped in spiritual mystique. One could neither ignore the sadhus nor the shrines. I found one dedicated to Shatrughan from the Ramayana.
Yes, I irrevocably fell in love with this little town that wore its Hindu faith on its sleeve, nay its heart.
“There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed forever, not for better, some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments with lovers and friends.”– The Beatles
In this town famed for yoga and the yogis, my favourite place turned out to be a palatial retreat. It was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram or the Chaurasi Kutiya, part of the Rajaji National Park. Today it is better known as the Beatles Ashram.
Yes, the British musical quartet were here decades ago in the company of their guru, Mahesh Yogi. The ashram was abandoned and forgotten but not them. Their time here was a blip in the grand scheme of things yet their presence lingered.
Somewhere along the way, Beatles love inspired artists to sneak into the abandoned premises. They splashed the ashram’s derelict walls with quotes from their music and art so sublime that it was just a short leap into a heaven of another kind.
“And in the end the love that you take is equal to the love you make.”– John Lennon
It was a treasure hunt of the best sort because you really didn’t know where you might spot something that made you stop in your tracks.
The beautiful wall paintings gave the dilapidated structures a new lease on life, a brilliant makeover. It paid homage to the magnificence of India and the legendary band.
I spied one wall mural quoting Lennon, “When you look up at the sky and see a cloud, think of me.”
I know I did.
I was especially taken aback by the ‘egg shaped’ huts there. They even had attached, now defunct toilets. I wonder whether the Fab Four ever meditated or created music in one of these igloos of stone.
Standing upright inside one such ‘egg’, I couldn’t resist chanting ‘Om’. My voice quivered and echoed and I literally had goose bumps. The acoustics were fabulous!
I was stuck inside a kaleidoscope of unforgettable sensory experience.
The Beatles mantra of love had transcended into this glorious art of Chaurasi Kutiya.
Rishikesh was unforgettable. It was a magnet for the weary, the lost, the curious, the adventure enthusiasts and the lovers too.
I wondered, ‘Which was I?’
Perhaps a bit of all.
Now, it’s your turn to show.
So click new pictures or feel free to choose images from your archives for Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #135, ‘A Glimpse into Your World’. Be sure to link it to my original post here, and to use the Lens-Artists TAG to help us find you. I am excited to see your interpretations and look forward to diving into your responses.
To love, laughter, life,
And music and light…