Since twenty years ago when I first came to India things changed dramatically. At the time I was shown a high rise building somewhere in Rajasthan and it was presented like a novelty and a very expensive place for the rich. Now the entire Mumbai is covered by a forest of tall buildings that encroach in the slum territory trying to eliminate it. The roads improved a lot and the old Ambassador cars went almost extinct being replaced by fleet of Toyotas. However the only thing that seems not to have changed is that in spite of the better roads and better cars, the average speed when you calculate a distance is till around 40km/hour. And no matter what you do you cannot beat it. And of course the rentals are still car and driver, looking suicidal still for you to drive. If you tend to forget this, reality settle in the moment you hit the road. The road to Nasik was timed on GPS somewhere around 3 hours but no matter that we left in the morning we reached Nasik around 4PM.
We stopped on the way in Igatpur, the place that has the Dhammagiri, the world headquarters of Vipassana meditation, a technique preserved in Burma since the time of the Enlightened One and returned to India. Its compound is home for hundred of Indian and foreign students that come here to study beginner and advance courses. Vipassana meditation has compounds all over the world. One note: the entire instruction, the food and the board is free, the entire expenses being covered by various trusts all over the world. One drawback: they take away your phones while you are studying in the compound. So no Facebook with Buddha.
Nasik(Nashik) is one of the four places on the Ganga, the mother river of India, that were blessed by drops of God’s nectar following a celestial battle between Gods and demons. All these places celebrate the famous Khumb Mela, the largest religious festival where you may see 20 million people descend in this town every 12 years. But what it means 20 million or more in India? And because the Indian God who was instrumental in this blessing is Shiva most of the temples are dedicated to Him.
The place of gathering in Nasik is this reservoir built on Ganga named Ramkund. It is crisscrossed by bridges and platformed ghats from where the pilgrims come to bath in the river that the belief pretends that it cleanse their sins.
For Hindus Ganga’s water is holly and according to tradition is does not get stale if preserved in a bottle so the pilgrims come here year around and use that water for ritual ablutions making offers to the river in flowers and candles that float on the river.