Late-November. Evening lapses into grays with vivid orange flashes of dusk. Driving towards a long-standing desire. Where different millennia are juxtaposed in one single geography.
Destination reached, I park and alight. And take the bridge across time.
To a cool breeze. Ripples and rafts chasing each other downstream. Birds hurrying home. Bovines ambling amidst backpacking tourists, mendicants and foraging mongrels in narrow alleys. Shops on either side. A motley multitude of myriads. Taped trance meeting synthesized chants, adding to ambient noise. A salute to eternal India.
I navigate onwards, captive to a call. With anticipation. An eagerness not often felt. A magnetic draw. A hastening of pace, a sidestepping of the onrush. Strains of a bhajan waft across. Soothing my eardrums amidst the cacophony. Fixated to the source, I continue to an inner beckoning. Remembrances of an earlier visit flit past. I hurry forward. Towards where steps lead to the river.
And then I am there again. One in a gathering of several strangers. All, united in the moment which will soon be upon us.
As the sun withdraws from sight, temple bells chime. Harmonium and flute tease each other in a melody. A slight breeze serenades flames of a holy fire. Smoke dancingly ascends heavenward. A hundred young voices entreat the Gods in Sanskrit. Some sway, some clap. As flashbulbs go off, diyas are lit. The lamps shine light on an ambience the antithesis of the city where I started out from.
The stars above look on silently and benignly. As the timeless river flows on serenely.
Head bowed, hands clasped I stand. Glistening eyes closed, I see. I hear, I feel. I experience with overcome senses. The definitive presence of an indescribable power. And a resonating peace.