With 30+ fatal animals and reptiles roaming around, Ramnagar needed some protection from the Jim Corbett National park. The locals of Ramnagar once prayed to Goddess Parvati and asked her for protection against the wild and the fiercely flooding Kosi river too. Then Parvati also known as Girija (Literal meaning the daughter of mountains) took residence on a small mountain in the Kosi river. Since then, Garjiya devi (Local name for Girija devi) temple has been a place of worship for locals and now a tourist point.
We looked over the scenic bridge towards Garjiya devi on the fierce River Kosi. But the bridge did not attract us, instead we saw few people going towards the temple through the river. Now we were with them inside the most feared river, Kosi. The whooshing sound of the wind gave it a dramatic impact.
The moment our legs touched the water a cold shivering wave passed through our body. The cool water was up to our knees and the current was getting stronger as we stood in the middle of Kosi. Slowly the big stones under our legs converted into small pebbles as we reached the banks of the river and now our legs were in the soft soil surrounding the temple.
Turning around we could see the broad yet quite empty channel of Kosi. Behind this vast channel was the Garhwal Himalayan mountain range. Entire range seemed to be on fire due to setting sun casting an amber color over the high deodar trees. Satisfied with this view we took an offering plate from the shop and leaving our shoes started climbing the mountain.
Tired from our river adventure, my aunt waited to gasp some air before climbing the steep stairs of the temple. Showing our vigour, we started climbing the stairs, midway through we could hear aunt shouting from below. Immediately running down, we saw two monitor lizards in her way staring at her. With futile efforts of stomping our feet, imitating to throw stones we could barely move their stares at us but not their position.
The shout had already gathered 10-15 tourists and locals around the spot some clicking photos while others trying variety of ways to poke the monitor lizards. Despite multiple efforts the lizards were dead still, not giving any space to climb up or go down.
Amongst this chaos some devotee rang the bell of the temple and all of sudden the monitor lizards spun to life and climbed the side wall, giving way for all the devotees. Locals immediately started praising Garjiya devi by loudly chanting, “Garjiya devi ki! Jay”. (Trans: Long live Garjiya devi)
Chanting in her praise we slowly reached the top of the mountain to enter the sanctum of the temple. Surrounding the small white-marble idol covered in red saree, is the small inner sanctum which can barely fit 3 people at one time.
We circled the sanctum to find it covered with red golden glittery cloth pieces tied by devotees in the hope that their prayers come true. Small windows inside the sanctum gave the best views of the entire Garhwal valley and the sunset over the Kosi. If there weren’t more tourists, I could have spent the entire evening just watching the beauty.
After completing the circle, we again bowed to the idol. Somehow, Garjiya devi seemed to be smiling at us. Maybe she was laughing at our panic over the monitor lizards, or maybe laughing at our futile efforts. Her smile though was an indication of how a simple prayer to her could have relieved us from our hurdles.
Hurdles are a part of our life. Simple faithful ringing of bell for the divine could save us from incessant shouting, panic attacks at the tiniest of problems. Locals of Ramnagar had complete faith in their goddess and thus had built their shops on the most flooding river in India and the water source for many wild animals. Thus, the smiling Garjiya devi stood right in the middle keeping an eye on everyone.
“God can calm the storms in your life.”-Bible edits.
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