I'm home! My back is aching like hell, my legs feel as if a truck ran over them, and I think i've sprained my foot, so i'm limping around the house like a handicap...but I'm sooo happy! Vaishnodevi was great! It was simply great! Right from the time I sat on the train till the time I got back, I've loved every bit of this trip! Though every year our college organises this trip, this was my first time with friends.
We were staying at a hotel in Katra- 5 girls in a tiny room. We started at around 4 in the afternoon. Took an auto till Banganga, and from there, with a loud 'Jai Mata Di!', we commenced our journey. There were some other friends, not from our college, who had decided to join us too. So we were about 15 people. But along the way some of us got separated- the speedy ones took the lead and we slow coaches dragged on after them. Three of my friends had gone barefoot- hats off to them! Taking small steps and stopping at almost every 'vishram sthal' we somehow reached Ardhkwari at around 9- that's about halfway. Then after a quick bite, we gained a li'l energy and sped on, chanting 'jai mata di' the whole time. When we finally reached the Bhawan around 11.30, we felt drained. But seeing the cheerul atmosphere around us we could feel our exhaustion being replaced by excitement and anticipation. It was really chilly up there...didnt feel it while walking but realised it later. After sumbitting our bags and shoes in a locker we joined the long queue to the temple. By the time we made it, our feet were absolutely numb coz of the cold. We went through the tunnel and then the cave...and at that point i felt it was all worth it...the long hard climb felt like child's play for 30 seconds of Mata's darshan. I could feel my tensions dissipating, and the long list of wishes I'd imagined I'd ask for, seemed so frivolous. All I could mumble was a thankyou.
After the darshan, at around 1, we ate from a dhaba nearby. And then again started the long walk back to the hotel. On our way back the lights went out and we walked in pitch dark. The sky above was studded with millions of stars, and for a moment we stood, awestruck, and admired God's handiwork. It was so...beautiful seems like such a small word! It was the most amazing sight I've ever seen. We felt so special...as if walking under a bejeweled cloak. We continued reluctantly and by the time we reached we were literally dragging ourselves to take a step. Our legs hurt so much, and resting made it almost impossible to move. We reached our hotel at 5 in the morning and I dont remember what followed after that. I only remember waking up at 12 in the afternoon the next day. And of course the pain hadnt ceased at all. We just rushed through the day, and at 5 we were on our way back. And now I'm home, feeling warm and cosy again...the pain will go, but the wonderful times we shared would always remain in my heart. And I dont think I'll ever forget that star studded night...sigh! Thanks God! :)