Enchanted at the Hot Water Springs
Ganeshpuri Travel Blog› entry 37 of 80 › view all entries
After a night in Bombay, Glenda and I headed to the outer edges of Bombay and as the urban structures around grew smaller and smaller, the grass grew taller and taller. In a rickshaw (known as a tuk tuk in Thailand) we chatted with the friendly local driver as we saw a temple sitting precariously on the cliff’s edge of a mountain nearby, shortly after leaving Virar station.
I had spoken to a spiritual friend of mine Puneeta, whom I had met in the interesting enough Customer Relations department of British Airways from over 10 years back when I was working in Bombay. Whilst I had moved southwards for pastures greener (metaphorically and literally) in New Zealand; Puneeta had moved northwards in a totally different sense to be engulfed in the solaces of the spiritual world at Ganeshpuri, Rishikesh and the like.
In India there is a Hindu and Jain festival that celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters, called Raksha Bandhan. The central ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. However this practice is not strictly confined to blood brothers and sisters but could also be extended to any male friend outside the family as is the case between Puneeta and her non-blood brothers Vinod and Ahmed.
We reached Ganeshpuri and after some initial confusion, we met up with Vinod who kindly let us relax by the side of the road while he scouted around for a suitable budget priced hotel. We later attempted to take a rickshaw to Vajreshwari but the rickshaw drivers seemed to inflate the price on seeing tourist $$$ as I am an Indian with a foreign accent and Indians have a knack of smelling $$$s on foreigners and Indians from abroad. Consequently we settled for the old State Transport buses despite the not-so-bad state they were in and as a result paid INR 7 per ticket, the equivalent of US$ 0.14 / AU$0.13. We visited the temple at Vajreshwari before returning to Ganeshpuri by late afternoon. We then took a look at the Warli museum with its share of unique paintings.
Our hotel was in very close proximity to the Hindu Nithyananda Temple which was erected at the place where Bhagawan Nithyananda performed Samadhi. I shall explain what Samadhi is a little later in this blog entry. According to his disciples, Nityananda was found as an abandoned infant in Tuneri village in Kozhikode, India. Settled in southern India, Nityananda gained a reputation for creating miracles and wonderful cures. He had started building an ashram near Kanhangad in Kerala. The beautiful hill temple and Ashram in Kanhangad are now pilgrim centres.
Some believe that Nityananda had the power to transmit spiritual energy (shaktipat) to people through non-verbal means. In 1936, he went to the Shiva temple here in Ganeshpuri village and asked if he could stay there. The family that looked after the temple agreed and built a hut for him.
Nityananda died on August 8, 1961. His Samadhi is located in Ganeshpuri at the Samadhi Mandir (Nithyananda Temple) which is now a pilgrim site. Samadhi has been described as a non-dualistic state of consciousness in which the consciousness of the experiencing subject becomes one with the experienced object and in which the mind becomes still, one-pointed or concentrated while the person remains conscious. Samadhi can also refer to videha mukti or the complete absorption of the individual consciousness in the self at the time of death.
Near the temple and even as far the next township Vajreshwari are a few hot springs. The temple itself has a few hot spring tanks where people wade in the water. The river that runs behind the temple has a point called Agnikund.
My girlfriend was by now getting used to vegetarian food especially in a hindu place like this where non-vegetarian food can sometimes be frowned upon.
After dinner we attended Aarti at the Nithyananda temple. It is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor act as lamps that are offered to any of the Gods, dieties, etc.
The next day we returned home to our suburb 7 Bungalows in Bombay. In the old days there was nothing but 7 Bungalows here which is why the British named our suburb 7 Bungalows.
That night we attended my former neighbour and childhood friend Demosthene’s wedding reception.
On the night of 31st December, like many other catholic youth, we met up with some mates and attended a formal dance at the Catholic gymkhana. On 2nd January, I took Glenda on a tour of my home city Bombay. We started with the Haji Ali mosque which is located in the sea but connected to land by a concrete walkway.
Thereafter we both saw Antilia which is the name of a twenty-seven floor personal home belonging to Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, the billionaire Chairman of Reliance Industries. There are about 600 full-time staff to maintain the residence which is reportedly the most expensive home in the world. It has been described as the "Taj Mahal of 21st century India". The home houses Mr. Ambani, his wife Nita, their three children and Mr. Ambani's mother. The structure was designed by architects using principles of Vaastu Shastra to maximize "positive energy". No two floor plans are alike and the materials used in each level vary widely. The home includes 400,000 square feet of living space, parking space for 168 cars, a one-floor vehicle maintenance facility, nine elevators in the lobby, a health spa, a yoga studio, a small theatre with a seating capacity for 50 on the eighth floor, a swimming pool, an ice room infused with man-made snow flurries, three floors of hanging gardens, a ballroom, three helipads and an air traffic control facility.
We then visited the Central Business District’s Marine Drive which is a long circular main road by the coast. An aerial view at night of the lights on Marine Drive is what prompted the pseudo name ‘Queen’s necklace’ for this stretch of road. We later went to Colaba and saw the Gateway of India and took a ride in one of the horse carriages. Here stands the majestic & opulent Taj Mahal hotel which was the main target in the recent terrorists attacks in Bombay where terrorists bombed / open fire at various locations in Bombay city. The siege lasted 3 days and many people lost their lives at the Taj Mahal hotel and other venues in Bombay.
We then visited Victoria Terminus aka CST station, one of the biggest railways stations in India through which Indian Railways operate.
We finally stopped at Cross Maidan off Fashion Street. Here stands a very miraculous cross where scores of catholics and non-catholics pray. This is the cross where all those years back, I used to pray at. One of the wishes I asked for at this cross was for me to immigrate to a new and greener land & bang! Jesus planted me in the lush green lands of New Zealand!!