The river sans stories; Uttarakhand’s Navalika
I was searching all these days whether there are any stories to be told about Navalika river. Unfortunately, I did not get anything. So let her be a river without stories to be told. Or let us assume her as a river that has thousands of stories to be said but is holding them back to herself and flowing with a cute smile. However, for me, I had a day’s story to tell about this River Navalika. We had chosen the banks of Navalika to rest on the third day of our trip to Lansdowne in Uttarakhand in the chilling month of January.
Navalika flows very calmly and quietly. It was shallow at the place where we rested, which made her more beautiful. Maybe, at the place where she originates, Navalika river may be flowing between the steep rocks with a huge thundering noise. However, our views and perceptions make our evaluations and conclusions about certain things.
There are so many big and small black stones on the banks of River Navalika. She flows touching these stones at times and keeping away from them at some other times. There is a hanging bridge in between the river. The Sun on the opposite side and the white sky added more charm to this black beauty. There were thick woods on both sides of the river. This was the first view of Navalika. However, a joyful pleasant atmosphere surrounded that place. It may be mainly because humans have not usurped and used the place. Nature stood pleasant and clear in that area.
Jwalpa Devi temple is situated on the banks of the river Navalika. It is located 34 kilometres away from Pauri district of Uttarakhand. The deity (devi) in this temple is known for granting all the wishes of her pilgrims. The story of Jwalpa Devi is related to the prayers done by her to get married to King Indra (Devendra-The King of Devas) and how she succeeded finally in pleasing the deity and marrying King Indra.
The road that leads to the temple had many steps. Also, there were many shops on both sides of the temple. The shops were filled with things that attract the pilgrims. We enquired about the prices of the materials in the shops while climbing down the steps, and prayed before Goddess Jwalpa Devi with folded hands. Then, we walked towards the banks of River Navalika. The water was very less in the river. While we were searched for places to sit in between the rolling stones, some half- burnt woods touched our feet. Later, we came to know that they were the leftover half-burnt woods after burning the funeral pyre.
We sat there chatting and cracking jokes for some time. Later, we walked towards the hanging bridge. There, we met four ladies who were staying nearby the river. I could remember three names of them. Shanti Devi, Nita Devi, Rupa Devi. I forgot the fourth woman’s name. Those women folk told me that after marriage they add the surname ‘devi’ to their maiden name. Four of them were going up the mountains to cut grass. I was surprised to see that they were not bothered that it is evening and the darkness has already crept in. Maybe the mountains, the forest and the darkness around, may have become a part of their daily life.
Suddenly, I remembered the ghost story related to Lansdowne town. In cantonment town Lansdowne, if the soldiers fall asleep at night, the ghost of an army officer will come and hit them on their face to wake them up. He was called Captain X. As we do not know the truth related to this ghost story, we were excited as well as curious about this.
Nita Devi invited all of us to her home. We told her that will make it next time. Though we told her so to make her happy, we were not sure whether we would be able to come back here again. There remained an unanswered question within us whether we will be back here again. It was those ladies who told us that the river is called Navalika. That name touched me somewhere inside my heart. It is because of this reason I penned this travelogue about her even though I did not get any stories related to her from anywhere.
Navalika is situated in the Pauri district of Garhwal, Uttarakhand. The nearest town to Navalika is Lansdowne. Lansdowne is a hill station in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. It was founded as a military garrison under the British Raj. The Garhwali Museum traces the history of the Garhwal Rifles regiment, which still trains in the town.
Navalika is situated in the ditsrict of Gadwal, Utharakhand.The nearest town to Navalika is Lansdowne. Lansdowne is a hill station in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. It was founded as a military garrison under the British Raj. The Garhwali Museum traces the history of the Garhwal Rifles regiment, which still trains in the town.
Translated by Deepa Menon
Getting there: By road: Lansdowne is located 248 kilometers away from Delhi and 34 away from Navalika.
By train: Kotdwara station is the nearest railway staion. Two trains run from Delhi to Kotdwara (Mussoorie Express and Garhwal Express). Mussoorie Express is the best train to reach Kotdwar, the nearest railway station to Lansdowne. The train leaves Old Delhi station at 10.20 PM and reaches Kotdwar at around 6.00 AM in the early morning. By air: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun
Sights around: Jwalpa Devi Temple, Navalika bridge