#CharDhamYatra: The call of Badri-Kedar


Ghaziabad: It is rightly said that unless Baba calls someone, he cannot reach Baba's door.

Few days ago, everyone read and heard the news of road closure due to heavy rains in Kedarnath and landslides on the way to Badrinath. Many devotees were turned back from the yatra and could not visit the temples. Our itinerary of yatra was also almost at the same interval. As we heard the news, we had also postponed the program and decided to go in May next year. 

But with Baba's blessings, the rain also stopped and the roads of Badrinath ji was also cleared by 2:00 pm, exactly 1 day before the day we were to leave.

We re-arranged our schedule and started our journey from Ghaziabad on 22nd October and in the night, we reached Guptkashi via Haridwar, Rishikesh, Devprayag. After resting the night in Guptkashi, we went for Darshan of Baba Kedarnath in the morning by helicopter.

There was not much crowd due to heavy rains and information about the closure of roads, so we could easily take a helicopter and the weather was also clar, due to which we could reach Kedarnath temple in the morning and see Baba Kedarnath.

After darshan of Baba Kedarnath we went to visit Baba Bhairav Nath where there was a lot of snowfall and the temperature reached in minus but due to the power given by Baba, we were able to stay there and enjoy the evening aarti to the fullest. We worshiped there wholeheartedly in Baba's Temple and sought blessings from Baba for the happiness and peace of our entire family, friends and the whole world. The next day there was a possibility of rain in the morning, so we came back to Guptkashi by helicopter in the morning and from there our journey to Badrinath started.

After driving some distance, we reached to Kali Math which is one of the Shaktipeeth, we worshiped Maa Durga and did pooja in the temple premises. After the worship, we enjoyed the Tawa (pan) roti and saag (hill greens) near the temple premises itself.

After taking the blessings of the Maa Durga in Kalimath, now we moved towards Ukhimath. Ukhimath is the 2nd House of Baba Kedarnath. When snowfall starts in Kedarnath in winter, the Lord is brought to Ukhimath where he is worshiped for 6 months. In Ukhimath also we worshiped and visited Panch (five) Kedareshwar, the priest of Ukhimath told us that those who are unable to visit Panch Kedareshwar and come to Ukhimath get the privilege of visiting Panch Kedareshwars.

 Usha (Banasur's daughter) and Aniruddha (Lord Krishna's grandson) were married here. This place was named Ukhimath after the name of Usha.

Ukhimath also houses the seat of the main guru of the Lingayat saints Rawal of Karnataka, South India. During winters the festive doli of Lord Kedarnath is brought to this place from Kedarnath. Winter worship of Lord Kedarnath and the throughout the year worship of Lord Omkareshwar is performed here.

We left from Ukhimath and proceeded towards Badrinath Ji and on the way we saw places of landslides at many places but they were cleared by the administration and the traffic was running smoothly. The roads were generally found to be in very good condition and most of the roads were wide and smooth enough for vehicles coming from both the sides so that we did not face much trouble. When we reached Badrinath in the night, we moved towards the temple of Baba Badrinath and after getting information about the darshans, ensured our program for morning darshan.

In the morning, first of all, bathing in the natural hot water pond (Tapt Kund) created by the hot water of sulfur carefully because the temperature there was very low, so going directly to hot water can be dangerous. Therefore, first of all put your feet in that hot water and then slowly go inside the pond till the knees and then till the waist and slowly, by giving time, completely lower yourself to take a dip in that hot pool. Bathing in Tapt Kund was a very supernatural experience and it seemed as if the cold had run away from the body and after that with full energy at 6:15 am we went to the temple to have darshan of Lord Badri Vishal and saw the bathing, makeup of God and Saw the aarti, which was unique and supernatural.

It is believed that the path to heaven starts from Badrinath and this is the place where one attains salvation after darshan. According to the Puranas, in an area of 3 km in Badrinath, the Brahma Kapal, which is considered to be the fifth head of Brahma, fell and there after Pitra Tarpan and Pind Daan, the ancestors get salvation and this is the best and highest Pitra Tarpan and Pind Daan. After having darshan of Badrinath ji we went via Joshimath to visit Kartik Swami, located 15 km from Pokhari, it has a climb of 3 kms and it is situated at a very high peak and dense forests.

According to the stone board there Karthik Swamy is one of the holy tourist places in Rudraprayag district. Situated at a distance of 38 km from the city of Rudraprayag, this place has a temple dedicated to Lord Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva. Situated at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level, this place is surrounded by the mighty Himalayan ranges. According to the legend, once Lord Shiva asked his two sons to do the Parikrama (circling) of the whole universe and declared that whoever comes here after taking first round will get the first opportunity to worship the parents. 

Lord Shri Ganesh, who was the second son of Shiva, won the competition by circling his parents (for Shri Ganesha his parents were the universe), which enraged Kartikeya. Then he gave the bones of his body to his father and the flesh to his mother. These bones are still present in the temple which is worshiped by thousands of devotees. Situated on the Rudraprayag – Pokhari road, this temple can be reached by trekking of 3 km from Kanak Chauri village. After darshan of Kartik Swami, we rested for the night at Rudraprayag where the Alaknanda and Mandakini rivers meet. From here Alaknanda goes to Devprayag and meets Bhagirathi and forms the river Ganges.

The famous shrine Kedarnath Dham is 86 km away from Rudraprayag. Rudraprayag is named after Lord Shiva. Rudraprayag is situated on the river Alaknanda and Mandakini. Rudraprayag is situated at a distance of 34 kms from Srinagar (Garhwal).

The confluence of the Mandakini and Alakhnanda rivers is a unique beauty in itself. Seeing them, it seems as if two sisters are hugging each other. It is believed that music maestro Narad Muni worshiped Lord Shiva here and Lord Shiva incarnated in the form of Raudra only to bless Narad ji.

From Rudraprayag we left for Haridwar in the morning via Rishikesh and after taking a bath in the Ganges at Har ki Paidi in Haridwar, tasted the delicious Poori, Chhole, Halwa and Lassi at the famous Mohan Puri Wale and left for Delhi after taking Gangajal. Due to such a good Darshan of Lord we had such a successful journey, there was a lot of joy and we were brimming with new energy again and again. The way we completed the journey successfully removing all the obstacles, it again became true that when Baba calls the devotees, no obstacle can stop them on the way.

(The writer is a media professional)

Written by Gaurav Pandey
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Afghanistan: A Full Circle – The 1992 Rescue at Mazar-i-Sharief


The Mazar-i-Sharif air base controlled by Uzbek leader Gen Rashid Dostum in 1992

Long before the mighty United States of America had set foot in Afghanistan, the Indian Air Force had spread its wings into the war-torn nation and carried out a successful aid and rescue mission involving the Indian Ambassador and members of the diplomatic corps from at least 20 different nations, including various ambassadors.

The year was 1992 and cable TV had just been introduced at the Agra Air Force Station. On the BBC we could see a lot of military aircrafts taking off and landing with anti-heat seeking flares firing at regular intervals at Kabul airport. This was the only impression of Afghanistan those days.

Suddenly one afternoon we were told to proceed to Delhi and report to Air Headquarters for a briefing as we had to proceed to Afghanistan on an emergency mission. During the briefing we were informed that our destination was to be Mazar-e-Sharif. The person entrusted to briefing us had never heard of the place and was clearly having difficulty in locating Mazar-e-Sharif on the map of Afghanistan.  Those days we were deprived of the luxury of GPS and other such gadgets.

Written by Sqn Ldr Rajesh Kumar (retd)
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#Korea: Princess of Ayodhya and her life in Peninsula


South Korea last month remembered its former President Roh Moo-hyun who once said, “We are cousins” while commenting on Korea’s friendly relations with India. On July 30 – the International Friendship Day, the Korean Cultural Centre (KCC) in India while celebrating the day with India, said, “For two countries holding cultural values in high regard, our friendship is sacred and set in stones since past and for years to come. India and Korea’s historical connection has roots in the Korean historical record Samguk Yusa.

As per Samguk Yusa, the Princess Huh Hwang-ok of Ayuta (speculated to be Ayodhya of India where her name was Princess Suriratna), set sail for a three-month journey about 2000 years back, using special stones to calm the waters on her way to Korea. She landed safely on the shores of the Gaya Kingdom and married King Suro of the Geumgwan.

Written by capital khabar
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#Covid: Compensation for fatalities not easy to come by


The second wave of COVID in India was a human tragedy beyond belief. By the end of June 2021, India had reported around 4,00,000 deaths. As mind-boggling as the scale of death was, things could always have been worse. India's deaths relative to its daily infections still showed a low rate of mortality. But there were always persistent murmurings and allegations that India's real death count was far higher than what had been projected.

How much higher exactly? Well, a recent study by the Washington-based Centre for Global Development found that excessive deaths in India during the pandemic could be as much as 10 times higher than what was actually reported. To be clear, excess deaths are a calculation of how many more people are dying in an area across a defined period of time as compared to usual. This means that not all of these excess deaths the study refers to will be due to COVID. Indeed, establishing an accurate COVID death toll would likely be considerably difficult as conceded by the writers of the report though they did assert that the actual death toll would still be a lot higher than the official count.

Written by capital khabar
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#Kargil: Saved by Batra Sir, I went back to bunker and prayed


“I remember my first mission for the Indian Army. I was stationed in Sopore, 50 kms away from Srinagar. One night, we got an intelligence report that militants were going to occupy a house in the area. I was ordered to plan an ambush with Captain Vikram Batra; we fondly called him ‘Vicky Sir’. 

We encircled the house and despite the militants trying to fire upon us, we neutralised them. It was the first time I’d killed someone– at the academy, we’d practice shooting targets that wouldn’t shoot back. But this was different. When I saw the damage a bullet caused on a wall of the house, I only imagined what it could have done to me. I was scared for my life. I realized that if I hadn’t pulled the trigger, the enemy wouldn’t have hesitated to eliminate us. Taking their life and saving my fellow jawans was the job I had been assigned.

Written by Capt Naveen Nagappa
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