In the year 1990 we were living in a small village in Garhwal hills. The name of the place was Deghat, which can not be located on India’s map even. It abounds in natural beauty, but it lacked the basic amenities like roads, water supply, transportation or connectivity to any major city. Some of our friends belonged to hilly areas. Usually in the evenings, we used to go out for long walks. Once I boasted to them, “Now I am used to climbing hills and I, no more find them intimidating or posing any real challenge. I think I can climb any hill with perfect ease as if I had been born and brought up here only”. “Well”, said Mr. Thapliyal, “tomorrow I shall take you to an ancient temple built on a hilltop, the approach road is also very tough, virtually we will have to pass through paddy fields which are full of water, as this being the sowing season. I accepted the challenge. Next day, early morning, we started our sojourn. We had with us our four year old daughter Sunaina also. All around us were watery paddy fields and zig-zag hilly pathways, I wonder, if they can at all be called roads. We were not accustomed to these hilly terrains so, after two hours long and tiring journey, we succeeded in arriving at the temple.
On reaching there, I realized that all our efforts have not been wasted because it was breathtakingly beautiful. It had been built by some king to commemorate his victory over his adversary. The amount of money and effort gone in its making, was difficult to imagine. The serenity, its archaic structure, the sound of water coming from the river flowing underneath the temple, chirping of birds and rustling of leaves added to its charm. Some devotees and priests present there, were chanting holy mantras and performing yajnas. It all provided a mystic touch to it. As per the custom, we hired the services of a priest to guide us to perform pooja (prayer).
The priest handed over two pots to us with the instructions to fill water in them from a stream flowing down at a distance of nearly two hundred feet away. We left our daughter, in the care of our friends and set out to bring water, we had to repeat the ritual seven times. In the last round, my husband was walking ahead of me, when suddenly I noticed some moving object between both his feet. Actually they were a bunch of tiny snakes. It appeared as if they had just come out of their egg shell, and were wriggling with sheer joy to welcome their life on earth. Or may be they were paying their obescience to God.
I was shell-shocked, I wanted to tell him because he appeared to be oblivious of this but on second thoughts, I dropped the idea, in case I shouted to make him aware of their presence, he might get panicky and in his confused state, might step over them. I prayed to God to allow him a safe passage. Then with bated breath, I waited, and I heaved a sigh of relief when he finally, crossed over them safely. I thanked God for saving all those precious lives. It was a real close shave for all of them. It is during such moments, He makes us realize how insignificant we are before His might. We just do not have any inkling as to which perils our next step can lead us to.
It was a very beautiful and memorable excursion. Thankfully on our way back Mr. Thapliyal suggested a shorter and safer route which we enjoyed more.