Wonderful Review from our amazing client.
It has now been around 9 months since travelling through Uttarakhand with Rahul and I still feel compelled to write this. I have many memories of our time together, some of the best in my 6 months travelling in India.
Rahul quite quickly transitioned from ‘tour guide’ to ‘life-long friend’ in my conception and I am extremely grateful for our time together. I never actually really wanted to go on an organised tour, it was my girlfriend’s idea, I wanted to ‘discover it myself’ sort of thing, but turns out I’m not Columbus, she’s right as always, and a tour with Rahul was far from my notion of what a tour could be. I got to see and learn so much more by going on tour with Rahul than I could have by going it alone. I would just like to write a brief account of our journey together and encourage anybody looking to experience some of India’s true beauty that you may otherwise miss out on to go on tour with Rahul.
We were a small group of my girlfriend and myself plus Jessie, Joke, Johan and Rahul and I felt very well looked after the whole time. We began our journey by heading to Babaji’s ashram in Chiliyanaula. This was where we spent our first three nights and became fully immersed into ashram life. Split into male and female dormitories I went from sleeping next to my beautiful girlfriend to Rahuland an axe-carrying, thick-bearded Baba, who enjoyed slapping Rahul and wrestling with him whenever he walked into a room – the rest of the tour wasn’t as homoerotic sounding as this, please continue reading. At this stage of my travels through India I was still quite sceptical of the whole guru concept however I had a quite profound dream where Babaji appeared in front of me and another great experience doing Rebirthing meditation at this ashram. Rahul was not only willing but extremely helpful and sympathetic in answering any questions I had about the ashram, Babaji, or anything else I wanted to chat about.
From this ashram we were driven to a beautiful small village area surrounded by green mountains and valleys. We stayed with an old friend of Rahul, who was a very accommodating, humble and warm-hearted man. One night our consummate host prepared a fire outside for us and his wife laid on a beautiful set of curries. Later that night the multi-talented Rahul played guitar (bloody well I might add), and we all sang and chatted under the stars. A real highlight was a day walk we went on to a waterfall, crossing some small farms and stopping for tea in one of the farmers homes as his children ran around playing. It was such a beautiful day walking across the undulating landscape dotted with some of the happiest looking women I have seen as they collected grass in the fields. We eventually ended up at a staggering waterfall where we took a dip, playing and relaxing around the pool.
We stopped at several ancient temples on route to Haidakhan Babaji’s second ashram, the names of which I forget but all memorable nonetheless. The first was really ancient, the 80+ year old priest saying somewhere in the region of 4000 (or even 6000?) years old, surrounded by huge trees and a damp forest which had a real pixyish feel to it. Another temple we saw had a startlingly massive, powerful tree that I sat under for some time whilst others enjoyed the many ancient temples. It was good to be able to do your own thing at times as well and at no point did I feel pressured to do anything or go anywhere, the whole trip was very flowing and natural, accommodating to our individual needs. We also stopped at several small ashrams including that of Neem Karoli Baba, where Krishna Das just happened to rock up and start playing!
My favourite place of the whole trip was definitely the second ashram we went to for Haidakhan Babaji. The place was just so beautiful with the river Ganges (a different one) running through the valley with blue glacial water. The river was in full recess at this time exposing the majority of the valley floor which gave rise to our Seva project of building a footpath across the way for a one-month festival before the whole valley is flooded and the whole project begins again. I loved the physical and creative work, often finding myself the last one there just rolling rocks into seating areas or small bridges or bathing pools, it was a lot of fun. The ashram itself has an awesome German lady called Sabina running it, great personality, so funny and has been devoted to Babaji and the ashram for a long time. The whole routine there was just so invigorating (although not compulsory it was great to get up at 4 and go to the river to bathe in the pool), filled with devotional singing, Seva, fire ceremonies, Satsang and in such a beautiful environment it was easy to see why. It was a real mixture of veteran devotees, travellers who had just been there for a few weeks, and villagers – at face value a bloody weird looking bunch but working together with a naturalness I have not often found in this world. As you can probably tell I could talk for a long time about this ashram and probably bore you somewhat so I’ll spare you that and just say, go, it’s awesome…
Throughout the journey we were having some very interesting philosophical discussions with Rahuland many self-reflective conversations as well. Being in these deeply spiritual environments obviously forces these sorts of feelings and concepts to the forefront of your mind, or tickles your inner-being if you like. It was great to be with such a supportive, good-humoured group of people throughout this. I would like to thank you all for making it such an awesome trip and hope we might see each other again in the future. Bhole Baba ki jai! And a massive thank you to Rahul for making the whole experience as smooth and enjoyable as it was. I am so pleased to have met such a good friend and hope that we might explore some more of India together at some point. Lots of love brother – Lancelot.