When it doesn’t come easy !!
I have been traveling around North India for the past 3 weeks, It’s been rough, adventurous, gutsy, fun, economical, and very photogenic. As per my travel itinerary, I came to Udaipur (Rajasthan), known as the “The City of Lakes” or “Venice of the East, also where some of the bloodiest battles have been fought, it was a place of contradictions. At once arriving here, I learned about another nearby town called Nathdwara. “Nathdwara enshrines Shrinathji – A deity of Lord Krishna which was originally enshrined at Govardhana Hill in Vrindavan.
According to local tradition, the deity was discovered by Madhavendra Puri in the forests of Govardhan. Krishna had appeared to him in a dream and asked him to install the deity of Shrinathji who had been originally installed by Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Krishna Himself around 5000 years ago. I had heard so many wonderful stories of the deity’s manifestation and it’s beauty before. Hence, I immediately decided to go visit this town which was 30 miles away. Got on a local bus which was slow but steady which took an hour and 15 minutes to reach the town of Nathdwara. I was supposed to be there by 12 noon or I would lose the opportunity of seeing the deity. I thought I had made it on time but only to realize that I had arrived 5 minutes late, and the temple is closed. I was bummed and had to return back to Udaipur for my actual photo assignments because the next darshan was only at 3.30 in the evening and I definitely couldn’t afford to stay that long. I got back to Udaipur and continued my photo coverage, but still the thought of being unable to see the deity was haunting me all day. Although it was only an hour ride, what was making it difficult going back was the packed photoshoot schedule I had in my only 2 days stay in Udaipur and the very strange timings of the temple, which would let visitors see the deity only for 15-20 minutes once in 3-4 hours. Making it extremely hard to be there at the right time.
By evening, I had figured something out that was to wake up early the next day (last day) at 4 am and leave by 5 am on a bus to Nathdwara for (7.00 am – 7.20 am) schedule and be back in time for that day’s assignments. As planned, the next morning I was in a bus by 5.00 am with a lot of enthusiasm, devotion and actually pleased with myself for making this trip, because it was bloody cold in the mornings and I had to take a cold shower (no hot water in the hotel), had only slept few hours that night, but still I knew it was all worth and the fact that I don’t know when I would be coming here again. According to my estimation, the bus was supposed to reach the town latest by 6.30 am but around 6.40 am the bus breaks down and wouldn’t start! We were still 4 miles away from the town and I panicked about my chances of seeing the deity this time too. Maybe I was not fortunate enough and many such thoughts kept running through my mind. I jumped out of the bus and started waving my hand to passerby vehicles and immediately a milk-man stopped with his huge metal cans of milk hanging on his bike and soon I was explaining my plight in broken Hindi, which he understood luckily and took me on, all this was happening in the freezing cold on a highway. He gave me a ride for about two miles and asked me to get down and go by myself again for the next two miles, has he had to go somewhere else. I thanked him anyway and started running for another two miles like a mad man. I was sweating like crazy in the cold, there were only 15 minutes left but finally, I made it into the town, desperate for a rickshaw to take me to the temple and when I found one and got to the temple it was almost 7.15 and there wasn’t much time left, I hurried through the crowd and there I was standing in front of Srinathji with folded hands (profusely sweating), it was one of the most beautiful deities I had ever stood in front of.