BACK AT GURUDWARA GOVIND GHAT
Having crossed the bridge, we reached the small bazaar. The horses were stopped at the marked place and we alighted. The horseman handed over the bags to us together with the two sticks. We paid him Rs.200/- and he together with his animals vanished like anything.
It was past 4 p.m. We felt some stiffness in our legs and backs. But still, we could move with a bit of uneasiness. We stepped on towards the Gurudwara. Small distance hanged heavy on us. Our aim was to stay outside at any shop. At slow pace, we reached the Gurudwara.
With folded hands, we were now standing at the threshold of Gurudwara Gobind Dham. We paid obeisance and entered the precincts. A part of weariness subsided with the feeling of our achievement. With a respite of about ten minutes due to taking of some hot tea and bread in the langar hall, we proceeded towards our booked room.
With the bags hung on shoulders and backs like a porter, we climbed the stairs up to 2nd floor jostling some times with the down coming yatris, as the concrete stair-case was not so wide as to accommodate the rush.
We entered the rest hall at about 5 p.m. Our companions, who had returned earlier, were either asleep or taking rest under blankets of different colours and designs. Brand wise these comprised woolen pieces, good rugs, synthetic wool, mixed wool etc. All pieces were of good quality. Their condition certified that they were stacked and maintained in hygenic conditions. In appearance and actual use, the blankets were quite OK and comfortable. Likewise, the foam mattresses were also neat and clean. This sort of the bedding, comprising blankets and foam mattresses, based on wooden floor, provided necessary warmth to the weary yatris to pass the night peacefully. The blankets donated by devotees constituted a special asset of the Gurudwaras at Hemkund Sahib, Gobind Ghat and Gobind Dham. We placed the bags at our beds and set right the clothes and blankets. Paramjeet now suggested to take complete rest for sometime to alleviate fatigue. We relaxed for an hour. After that we felt quite light and active. We desired to have some langar as, due to fatigue, we could not have it earlier to our satisfaction. We moved down the stairs quite easily as the weight of bags on us was absent now. Soon, we were inside the langar hall. We got utensils from the rack and took a place on the mat.
The coming and going of yatris appeared to be a continuous process there. Some of our own jathawalas were going out after taking langar and some had come along with us. All the mats were fully occupied. Dal, chapattis, kheer achar and luke warm water were being served. The sevadars made repeated rounds in between the rows to ensure a proper supply of the edibles. Except the din of utensils at the washing rack, there was almost complete silence in the hall. After we had taken langar, PARAMJEET carried thalies to the washing place. There was a standing guidance for the yatris to do self-service for cleaning utensils. PARAMJEET performed seva (service) for sometime at the washing rack and returned with a sense of thankfulness.
Outside the langar hall, there was a rush of yatris as usual. Being a cold place, hot tea was the first liking of the yatris. To gain more heat we again had some tea before returning to our room. We had a desire to visit the short bazaar again but at that time we could not do so. Some more rest was needed.
In a short while, we were back to our room. Mostly, the tired yatris were fast asleep by now. Our beds were already in place. In moments, we were lost to sleep. After 9-30, I woke up and asked PARAMJEET, if she wanted to visit the bazaar with me or preferred to take rest. In a few minutes, we went downstairs draping ourselves with proper clothes to stave off exposure. The outer main gate was half closed with sevadars on guard duty. We informed them of our intentions to go out for a short time. They agreed with a rider that we should be back very soon. Quickly, we went to the bazaar. First of all, we had some hot milk at a shop. After that, we visited the bazaar hurriedly. The shops were being closed, as very few yatris were out there in the bazaar at that time. In less than half an hour, we were back in the Gurudwara. While going upstairs Paramjit informed me about the working of a dispensary in the premises, as she also got some medicine for headache and a bad cold. Within a few moments, we got back to our beds again. There was almost complete silence in the hall. Very few persons were still awake. But still some of them were sitting and gossiping. The generator was on and the lone electric bulb in our room gave some light. Regarding the morning programme, we had already exchanged views with some co-travellers. So, there was no reason to worry of. With THANKS and Prayers to the ALMIGHTY, we went to sleep.
At half past 3 A.M. I woke up due to a bit of disturbance caused by persons passing through our hall for bathrooms etc. Paramjit also followed me. Mostly our companions were also fast asleep. However some snoring sounds were audible. We put aside the blankets and made for the bathrooms etc. By 3:30 A.M. we were back in our beds after answering all calls at self-purification. The electric light had reappeared after 11 PM. Some of the half awake yatris were shaking off slumber. Outside we could hear the noise of torrential rain and the generator. It was very cold but we enjoyed the warmth of our blankets.
The hall was now full of activity and movement of ‘up-and-down’ bound yatris. Pilgrims who were free by now, were seen busy in packing up their belongings. Our packing had already been completed. The rain had come down to drizzling and Paramjeet decided to pay obeisance in the Darbar Sahib room downstairs. We got a little wet due to splashes of rainwater while walking through verandah and. negotiating the stairs. We prayed in the Darbar Hall where Gurbani ‘paath’ was on. We got ‘parshad’ and having enjoyed two glassful of tea, returned to our hall. The blankets were being folded, counted and stacked for return to the store room. This work was soon over. The rain had stopped completely by now. Now, everyone was thinking of moving at their own convenience.
By 6 A.M., we were ready in all respects. One family, out of the group of our three families, who were to hire a common porter, got somewhat late due to the children with them. They however nodded to follow within minutes. We picked up our bags and having taken a last look inside the hall moved out into the verandah and along with other fellows reached the ground floor. In the parting moments both the families favoured taking some Prashad by way of "mitha parshada" and tea, which were being served, in the veranda. Duly washing our hands, we proceeded towards the Darbar Sahib room to offer our Prayers before leaving. Our humble gratitude was for HIM, WHO granted us this gracious and golden time in our life.
This Gurudwara is adorned with a unique importance. In the evening, it plays host to the Sangat coming in from Gobind Ghat and returning from Hemkund Sahib and in the morning, it showers flowers on the devotees proceeding towards Hemkund Sahib and returning to Gobind Ghat. This was the daily routine spanning the yatra period.
Then we moved out of the Gurudwara bowing our heads to it at the main gate.
Outside the main gate, porters and horse keepers swarmed around us. Exorbitant rates were demanded by them. Meanwhile, both the families had also arrived. The porters tried to form a clique. However, out of necessity, one porter was settled for Rs. 180/- upto Gobind Dham. He deftly fixed the bags in his pithoo. Because of poverty, the porters needing work were looking at our porter strangely. That was but natural. Our porter balanced the weight at his back with a buttress cord passing above his forehead. He walked on his strong legs in a casual manner to cover the 13 KM hilly way. One family accompanied the porter. Myself and Paramjeet followed loaded with thoughts about the journey so far completed.