Shahido, daughter Zahira and Diti set out for the great India adventure and returned with many stories to share …
From Delhi to Dehradun and Rishikesh
Zahira, Diti and I have been back from our six week India adventure for over two weeks now. It doesn’t take long to slip back into life back home. I am a bit afraid if I don’t write about the journey now, time will take over and it won’t be so fresh in my mind. I have all the photos Zahira and Diti took on my screen saver and every time they come across the screen, I’m back there enjoying the journey.
We started off in New Delhi at the Osho Rajyoga Meditation Centre meeting up with Atul, Prem Sakshi and Naina; I love those three, always so willing to assist me on my little adventures in India and always give us so much love. They took us out to Oshodham where Dharm Jyoti lives and stayed there for a week. She and Neelam were offering a 3-day Meditation Camp which we were able to join, and they also had a sannyas celebration on the Sunday and initiated about 50 people into sannyas. I could feel the love of Osho coming very strongly through these two women.
This camp was followed by another meditation camp conducted by Swami Ravindra Bharti. He conducted a 4-day Tantra meditation camp which we were able to attend. Many of Osho’s discourses were in Hindi but that didn’t matter as we have all been in Pune 1 and are quite used to listening to Osho in Hindi! Osho’s words sound like a song in Hindi; I notice that my mind goes crazy because it can’t understand the words but settles down eventually and listening happens. We love Ravindra and have invited him to come to Australia. He plans to come at the end of April next year to hold a 2-day meditation weekend which he calls Life, Love and Laughter.
But I regress. We then travelled overnight by train to Dehradun and stayed at the Osho Om Bodhisattva Commune, a beautiful ashram in the foothills of the Himalayas. We were well looked after and loved by Mukti, Narendra and Divya, these old sannyasins I know from Pune 1 times. It is always so good to meet up again with old friends from my early days of sannyas, somehow I connected with many Indian sannyasins during my early sannyas days and enjoy very much meeting them again.
We took a day trip up into the mountains to Mussoorie, which gave us a great experience being in the mountains and seeing the wonders of nature there and of course also shopping and eating Indian food! We had a sannyasin taxi driver and he was carefully looking after us, showing us the most interesting places to see. We also visited a Buddhist temple just outside of Dehradun which was pretty amazing with some beautiful stupas.
After three days in Dehradun we hired a taxi to drive us to Rishikesh. Although the first part of the road had been almost totally destroyed by the monsoon, once we made it to the highway it was great going with forests on both sides of the road, monkeys everywhere and little villages here and there. I love to see just how innovative the Indian people are; they are such great survivors making a living and staying alive despite incredible circumstances, and are always cheery and willing to share. I never had a love affair with India until my journey last year; now I love going and can’t wait for the next trip!
We stayed at Osho Gangadham on the banks of the Ganges just out of Rishikesh. It is a fairly new ashram and still very basic in the facilities but we loved it; it was a bit like camping which we do a lot of in Australia, so it didn’t worry us not having all the comforts of home. We stayed in the dormitory which was only a few feet away from the river so we could listen to the sound of the river lying in bed.
I forgot to mention we met up with a young Indian woman at Dehradun who came with us to Rishikesh so we were four in number. We originally had set out from Australia with a man from Melbourne but we left him at Oshodham. He hadn’t been to India for 12 years and had the good fortune to fall in love with someone at Oshodham! We later met up with him again in Pune…
Anyway, back to Rishikesh … there was a meditation camp happening so we were able to go sightseeing and come back every night to participate in the Evening Meditation. It is a great way of seeing India while staying in places where Osho’s meditations are offered. We had no electricity in the dorm as the monsoon had caused a landslide and destroyed an electricity pole, but there was a beautiful young swami who bought a bucket of hot water for each one of us every night so we could shower Indian style. Right next door to the ashram is a white water rafting facility which was fun to watch. It is quite an experience being next to this famous river; the water was very cold but we did manage to put our feet in! It was running very fast as the monsoon had just ended.
Swami Chaitanya who bought the property and created the ashram is a beautiful man. The food was great and we felt totally loved and cared for. I recommend this place for a visit, and there are many other interesting places to visit around Rishikesh. Two amazing swing bridges over the Ganges called Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula lead to a great market and all the temples. The city itself is quite large too.
We went for a visit to the Gujarati Ashram in Rishikesh proper where one of Osho’s oldest disciples lives; her name is Madhu, a beautiful women and a daughter [probably niece, ed.] of Morarji Desai. Although she wasn’t feeling well, she made us feel very welcome and her carers gave us fruit and sweets. The silence in her room was very, very strong and she talked briefly to us. Many people say she is enlightened but while she doesn’t say so, I could feel a very strong presence in the room.
We also met up with a very beautiful Sai Baba devotee who has a travel agency and is called Shekar. He was our real estate broker, taxi driver, tour organizer, internet provider, able to provide everything we needed, including a great massage; he called his cousin who was the most professional masseuse I have ever experienced! Shekar also listed all the great sights in Rishikesh that we hadn’t seen, so next time we will stay there for a month. His website is uttarakhandleisuretours.com
As Rishikesh is a holy city it’s not possible to buy alcohol there, but once again Shekar managed and he found cold beer for us … he was such a gift. Also, he encouraged us to hire a car with driver to go to Dharmsala. In spite of having already train tickets, we all decided to go in a luxury car with a driver, which turned out to be a good thing because Mr Rana, the driver, was another gift we received. He was an older man in love with his religion, took total care with his driving and played great music all the way to Dharmsala!
We were a bit reluctant to leave Rishikesh as there were so many more things to see and experience, but we didn’t have enough time allocated. In retrospect I think that it would be better to spend a month in each Osho ashram and really experience it to the full. Diti will say that I felt sad every time we left an ashram which is true. We received so much love and care everywhere we went… even though we only spent 5 days in Rishikesh it felt like home.
Read the whole series: Shahido’s Travel Log
Shahido is a nurse by profession and worked at the ashram’s medical center during the seventies. She cherishes the life changing experiences we all share since those days. Nowadays she lives in Australia and distributes also Osho’s books there, and loves traveling to India. www.oshobooks.com.au