1.11.2010

Ukhimath Temple - A Silent Bride in the Moonlight.


Paulo Coelho had once said, if you want something the whole universe conspires to get it for you. Sure enough! It was pretty much the same story with us.

Tungnath was the highlight of the day and the related ecstasy didn't allow us to descend at the appropriate hour. Winter in the mountains is a little different. The world is awake as long as there is daylight and once the foothills plunge into darkness there is no life, no movement, no activity.

The descent down Tungnath was even tougher in the slippery ice and we paid for it with a precious hour of daylight. Exhausted and a little disappointed that this great moment had come to an end we were in a partial mind to go to Ukhimath. As the car swerved along the rough hillside road with occasional thrills of hanging off the cliff edge into the gaping darkness of the valley below the driver decided to drive up to Ukhimath temple to check if it was still open.

The biting cold, the exhaustion and the drunken bliss of Tungnath, made Ukhimath that much more inaccessible in the night within our minds. And yet, as the eyes strained to keep open, we hazily saw the night lights of Guptkashi on the opposite hill make dots of the letter OM floating in the dense darkness of the surrounding forests. It was two nights away from Poornima, and the moonlight was slowly beginning to awaken the silent beauty of the night among the hills. Dotted lights skirted by, and the road was bumpy as ever with sharp turns as it went winding along the hill side. The landscape looked like the sky had opened itself straight to us merging with the star studded hillsides appearing like a completely enveloping universe as we floated through it, it was magical. We drove up to a halt to see the bright light of Ukhimath shine over its finial.



Ukhimath was a different world. Living, breathing with energy and pulsating within its nest over the hillside. Silence and darkness had descended over its ambiance. This Pradosham day was blessed and I don't know how to explain it. It was not about visiting a temple, it was not about making it on time, it was not about lighting a lamp to the great Lord Mahakala... it was the melting exhaustion, the extended beauty of the ancient world and an even higher bliss when I beheld this quaint temple clothed in color so unique that it appeared like a coy bride in this star studded night. Words cannot explain the excitement, through my confusion of wanting to visit this temple in daylight to observe it closely.

Ukhimath temple courtyard is a place I would like to be in forever. We had barely made it to the temple, as we asked our way around to the courtyard to be faced with colorful glitter of this small temple so coy and shrouded in subtle blended light. 




Ukhimath awakened my fantasies about the past. The style of this courtyard, the presence of wood and stone instead of cement, the walls that just hid the surrounding hills from us, and the dancing maidens on the walls who entertained the heavenly celestial world dotting the faceted walls of the temple, plunged my imagination into its finest state. To amalgamate one self into the real, where imagination takes over the present, the aura of the place envelops me and I forget that I belong to NOW [defined by time and change of this era] is a relishing experience. Ukhimath temple appears like a maiden resplendent in rich garish colors, decked in electric jewelry, diamond studded and glowing, draped in bright colors, subtly teasing in the dimly lit night.

This temple lies coy in the shadows of her courtyard like a graceful maiden waiting to be wedded, revealing bits of her color as we strangers walk around discovering every wall that protects her. Gasping for breath, filling my hungry eyes with this splendor, I bathed myself in her resonant beauty as I made my way into her inner shrine.

How dream like is this moment!

To think that I had previously scanned the landscape as the driver pointed out the roof of Ukhimath temple that teased my eyes with her presence on the opposite hill the previous day, I was standing here and now waiting for the celestial world to welcome me into her world. My heart had been excited to visit and though Tungnath took over my consciousness for the entire day, Ukhimath presented herself in the dim light of the moonlit night, most gracefully.

Am I blessed to be here to witness her presence in full beauty and elegance and bathe myself in her ambience. There is silence, there is warmth and yet, as the chilling winds whistle through her courtyard there is subtle presence of life brimming within her walls, awakening my soul and challenging my emotions that lie dormant with me.

To be continued...

7 comments:

JC said...

Hi Kavitha! Nice thoughts on Ukhimath Temple that is dedicated to Usha!

And, Usha is the time related to early morning, 'arunodaya', ie, the time or 'kaal' when the sun in the sky appears Reddish in colour (like the fire in the heart or core of earth that is related with Kali, the colour of space/ sky after sunset)...

The Hindu mythological stories indicate Usha in human form as the daughter of Banasur (of Assam in the northeast India - and sun rises in the east) - the terrible and powerful demon and an ardent devotee of Shiva (Mahakal) - who chose Krishna's grandson Aniruddha as her bridegroom indicated to her by Chitralekha (an artist, or in the present day terms perhaps a graphic designer, maybe through some shadi.com-like site!)... She also helped her through her supernatural powers smuggle Aniruddha in to the 'Agnigrah' or literally the 'house of fire' where they lived secretly as husband and wife...!

LAKSHYA said...

Interesting ! Had not heard of this place before. Your report makes it sound wonderful.

Jaya Vijaya said...

Hari Om Kavitha...

I'm happy for you that you finally reached Tungnath, but were you able to have darshan? Yes, Ukhimath is also a very special place in Uttarkhand. I recall we spent a few nights there during Janmastami (1992). Beyond words! Thanks for sharing your realizations with us all. Om Namah Shivaya!!!

YOSEE said...

"where imagination takes over the present, the aura of the place envelops me and I forget that I belong to NOW [defined by time and change of this era] is a relishing experience."
"Ukhimath temple courtyard is a place I would like to be in forever".....
"Am I blessed to be here....."

This is something i can relate to very well, Kavitha. Such precious feelings overwhelm and catch one unawares,leaving a deeply nourishing sense of fulfillment. Though evanescent,these little intimations of Ananda are the true jewels that enrich life.

I am glad your trip gave you such profoundly moving experiences.

Kavitha said...

Tungnath temple itself was a darshan. We were not able to get darshan of the shiva linga inside the sanctum since the temple was closed but :) well we did get darshan of the sahasraha linga at the entrance of the temple.

JC said...

Happiness is a state of human or animal mind, which in the humans can perhaps find experssion in a smile (because "Face is the index of mind" and, in, say, a dog, in his swinging tail'). While 'eternal bliss' is related with Nadbindu, the formless God, i.e., a mere dot - which is related with time and space zero - that believably is capable of holding all physical forms - in the entire infinite appearing universe - within it :) And man being a model of the universe, perhapsw God is achievable only in a zero thought stage that Kavitha felt when at Tungnath...

vidya said...

Lovely Kavitha ... :-) Thank you