[This is post for Indiblogger.in competition for the blog competition titled "Jiyo Life". It's link is . I need as many comments as possible to win]
A divine trip was not in my mind when my pal Ashwani suggested we go on a trip together to celebrate, well too many things at once. One, we cleared first year in college. Two, they all got cleared in their CA papers. Three, our friendship strengthened in last one year of our college life so this was a very welcome celebration. Four, We needed to get out of Delhi any way. Hence a trip to Vaishno Devi was readily accepted in September of 2006.
Therefore, we five Ashwani, Pranjal, Manish, Ashwanis aunts son Atul and myself were booked for the trip. Tickets bought of Indian Railways by the proposer himself a month before the trip. Most of the college in that one month was spent deciding what to take and what not to, also of the search for an appartment in the vicinity of our college since I and Pranjal had decided to live together that year.
Well the auspicious three day trip time had arrived. I and Pranjal arrived together as we were roomies now. Manish arriving from Gaziabad and Ashwani from Shahadra (though he lived in Faridabad) with Atul.
The train was timed at 2300 hours and we certainly were too excited to reach the place by 2000 hours. We chatted a bit and stories were exchanged of various other trips five of us have had in past 20 years of our life.
Excited and eccentric we boarded our train 'Jammu Tavi Express' when it was announced. We immediately changed to easy goin half pants since our whole night will be spent in train and the proposed time of arrival happened to be 0630 hours the next morning. We had brought about a number of items to spend in the night and since we knew no body's gonna get to sleep on the whole trip for it was all about having fun. These items included an Mp3 player, Cards and Ludo. Pretty much of every thing required. Since we had fed ourselves a nice feast till the time train had arrived we only carried water bottels for the trip.
We started by chatting around some more, well that is one thing that did not stop the whole trip to be precise. Well a whole trip of video-ing each other on our camera phones. Playing cards and gnawing fraud by one or another. The ludo time with four sitting on the upper booth and one sitting by the window hearing to Mp3 player and commenting on stations passed by. Needless to mention that others about us were sound asleep. Though there were comments on the tube still on at 0100 hours in the morning which some how increased to there sleeplessness, than the fact that a whole room was moving. A pleasure that none of us could enjoy since a moving room and a shaking bed was not our idea of a perfect sleep.
A particular incident in the train which, all must have experienced or witnessed once in a while if you travel by Indian railways, well that was mine first. An elderly gentleman had been on the train awake as we were and who clearly forgot which berth he was allotted to and roamed about in the train from one to another, chatting friendlily. Later, We found out he did not had a confirmed reservation. Poor soul had to bribe the train conductor and go without a berth. There was also a commotion about the train when he was next to our berth. I did not hear it complete, for I had Mp3 thrust into my ears. Later I found out he found a very unwelcome berth to hang about which was possessed by a lady at that moment. Rest could be imagined.
Well the train unlike the natural order of things with railways in India, arrive pretty much on time. Ashwani has arranged it all. Actually he was a regular Vaishno Devi pilgrim - may be every other month. We went to a 'Dharamshala' where we had a room to us. We relaxed and freshened up.
In an hour or so we were all ready to start our climb up the Himalayas, the auspicious pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi. The long stretch pathway which now also has trolley for what I believe sick and old, but is also used by really dull people who can not imagine what they miss down the mountainous path.
The Delhi we started from was hot with departing summer which wasn't too complacent to leave. Here it was cold and unrealistically or so to say to the ill advise of my dear roomie I did not took a single strand of a warm cloth up here. Now as we moved up carrying our baggage's with us and with temperature falling and with nothing on I had a reaction. At this point you should know this does not happen to me during winter and I am from hills of Uttrakhand, but Jammu is really cold. Well the reaction was that my body to say warm was making me to visit the loo, and that too really soon. This and every public convenience from base of the journey till we climbed up I actually have tested all the toilets.
Ashwani, as I have told is a regular pilgrim, so he knew the ways quite right. So we used cheat codes and reached a level high. In my defense I was just following.
It was a fascinating trip ever with pauses to snap photos off two cameras we took with us (one of Manish and the other of Ashwani) and to feast.
At night we were up the mountain and really close to the temple. Ashwani the expert guide informed a morning aarti at 0500 hours the next morning is the best time for darshan. We all readily agreed. I still cold already had made five trips to the toilet in past five minutes of our arrival at the hotel, was suggested to lay down. Well I dozed off after a cup of tea and a conversation about wishes we were to ask tommorrow.
The next morning i was woken up by 0400 hours. everybody had tea and freshened up.I was made to wear three shirts for they sought I wont survive, which i thought could have been the case way up.
At 0500 hours we were in the line outside the temple with Prasad in our hands. It was exciting and not to mention cold. We went in through the temple and down the cave. It was fascinating inside the cave where you have to duck and move.
Back outside we headed our way down which was really quick then the climb. With still regular pauses for Breakfast, Lunch and Photo.
On our way down, we took a dip in river Ganga. It was a real refreshing bath in the cold water, actually fills one with warmth and calmness.
We reached the Jammu Tavi station on time. It was a night journey back as well- though this time a moving compartment, a shaking bed of iron did not stop us and we all dozed off silently on the trip back to Delhi.