A Bizarre Travel Experience

Didi, for heaven’s sake be careful…..that sari may just slip from your hands!”, she pleaded. My wavering attention was immediately back to the precarious situation we were in. I controlled the urge to rebuke her at that moment for being so insistent on wanting to be at this place. A noisy family of more than a dozen people had just landed right beside us. My attention was quite automatically diverted towards this freshly added commotion. As if the already chaotic situation wasn’t enough!

We were at Triveni Sangam and had just taken a dip in the holy confluence of the three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati.

My cousin had made sure to include Triveni Sangam in the itinerary when we were planning our visit to Varanasi. During her previous visit to Varanasi, she couldn’t make time for Triveni Sangam and this time she wasn’t going to miss it. I wasn’t much keen but agreed on her insistence.

Pic 1: Boats that take people to Triveni Sangam.

Triveni Sangam is located at Allahabad and is about 83 Km from Varanasi. It is a sacred place, one that is of religious importance to the Hindus, where the historic Kumbh-mela is held every 12 years. It is believed that a bath in the Sangam washes away all sins and paves the way straight to heaven. That’s not the reason why my sister insisted to come here though. It was just sheer curiosity. As for me, I just accompanied her though experiencing a Kumbh Mela is in my bucket list.

The Sangam is located some distance away from the banks and one must take a boat to reach there. At the confluence, the greyish and opaque waters of River Ganga is distinctly differentiable from the greenish and clear waters of River Yamuna. The mythical River Saraswati is invisible, believed to be subterranean. A series of boats were set up forming a sort of a platform where people performed religious rituals. There was a special arrangement for taking a dip in the waters. You step onto a log of wood holding the ropes on either side that are tied at the two ends of the log, much like a swing. The rope is slowly lowered till you are immersed in the water.

My sister was keen on taking a dip and also in conducting the rituals. I wasn’t sure for a while but then decided to take a dip too. It was going to be an interesting experience I thought, but no rituals for me. All the more, as the priest there demanded Rs 500 just for a coconut, some flowers, and a little vermillion.

Pic 2: Triveni Sangam marked by the flags seen here where a series of boats are set up to form a sort of a platform.

Now, the only problem was that we couldn’t see any place to change into dry clothes after the dip. It was the month of December and hence quite cold. We would have to get out of the wet clothes. Our boatman assured that he would make the necessary arrangements. “Yeh sari hai na” (we have this sari), he said, picking up two bamboo poles, as he spoke. Both of us assumed that he would use the bamboo poles and the sari to create a makeshift arrangement in the boat with enclosures on all four sides. We didn’t bother to clarify.

When we were done with the dip, he just handed over the sari to us. One of us was supposed to hold the sari from one end and stretch our hands up. The cylindrical sort of an enclosure created by the 9 yards yarn is where the other would change. It was a HORRIFIC proposition. The sari even seemed quite transparent to me. We resisted a bit but soon realized that it was the only solution and we could either do as instructed or shiver our way to the banks. Opting for the latter would most certainly cause us to fall ill. We were also quite shocked to see other women doing the same. Nobody seemed to have a problem, except the two of us.

Pic 3: Siberian Seagulls that migrate during winters making the holy rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, their temporary home.

My sister had to admit our Varanasi trip didn’t have to include Triveni Sangam, at least not now. However, it’s an experience that we hilariously recall each time we talk about our Varanasi trip. All said and done, our wish to be at Triveni Sangam during a Kumbh Mela remains as strong as can be.

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

18 thoughts on “A Bizarre Travel Experience”

  1. Nice to know that you visited Triveni Sangam. It rekindled my memories of my visit during Mar 2018. Not much facilities here for the pilgrims. I hope you might have visited Hanuman Mandir and Adi Shankracharaya temple near by.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh oh, not a lucky dip for sure!
    I haven’t seen Triveni Sangam but from the pictures and our visit to Varanasi I can imagine. We saw those boats float up to our boat with deities, and the sadhus would scold us when we didn’t offer puja or money 😃
    Having said that, Kumbh Mela must be quite something to witness…
    Intersting to see so many seagulls, I honestly didn’t know they are found so far away from sea (I am a noob in birding of course 😃)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These Sea Gulls are seen only during winter when they migrate. Have seen them in Gujarat too. And hundreds of them.
      Varanasi was one the best trips I have had, everything was just so charming, be it the sadhus, the dingy lanes, the food, Ganga, the aarati…..every single thing.
      Let’s see if Kumbh Mela happens in this lifetime. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know what, I saw Varanasi as a kid, and didn’t have much inkling about the charms that you mention. I truely want to go back someday for all that, and the lassi shops and banarasi paan 😋
        Best of luck with Kumbh Mela whenever that happens 😃

        Liked by 2 people

  3. While I do visit such places but I never like the idea of performing ceremonies or religious rituals. I have never warmed up to the idea of taking a dip in the river even if it is a holy river. Anyways, traveling in India is bound to produce many unique experiences. While some might be funny & memorable others might be on the other end, befitting to erase it from the memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely one with you on not indulging in ceremonies and rituals. Such places are enjoyable though especially when watching people. Some incidents are of course best forgotten.

      Like

      1. On a different note, some of these ceremonies are not bad rather offer unique or spiritual experience. Unfortunately,they are being misused for many people to fleece money. I wish we could flush out such people.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. lovely post , beautiful images , n i like most u use triveni sangam a historical name .
    I also went to Kumbh but never thought of it like this, in Varanasi there are rooms for changing clothes for women at the ghat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Nitin Sir. And apologies for the delayed response. Varanasi does have changing rooms, so does Haridwar. And that’s what made us assume the same would be the case at Sangam also.

      Liked by 1 person

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