October 20 Delhi to Uttarkashi via Dehra Doon

As we packed into the ATR Turbo-Prop, overflowing with enthusiasm to get going, we found out that the yatris’ luggage didn’t fit in the aircraft (everybody had packed light, apparently).  Swami Mitranandaji stayed back to get the rest of the luggage over successfully and arrived later that night at Uttarkashi.
All of us were reminded of Guruji’s words “Lord is a teacher and teaser.”
After a warm welcome from CM Dehra Doon, who also provided us with lunch and snacks for the trip, we boarded our next modes of transport, three buses named Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.  Guruji moved between the buses and spent time with all the yatris.
We arrived later that evening at Tapovan Chinmayam, a well kept, aesthetic, serene ashram at 9:20PM.  Swami Dhyananandaji was at the entrance with a garland to welcome Guruji. Nearby, we could hear the mother Ganga roaring. We experienced more teasing from the Lord as we were made to wait till the next morning to see the majestic Himalayas and beautiful Ganges.
A little about Uttarkashi: Situated 165 km from Rishikesh, the town is so high that even the lowest regions are 5,800 ft above sea level. It is bordered on all sides by a mountain range called Varanavata. The tributaries of the river Bhageerathi flow around the mountain tract like two hands hugging the plains. At the central point in the plains, almost like the lap of the mountain tract, is Ujeli. It is here where the Tapovan Kutir, the home of Swami Tapovan Maharaj, is.
Built in 1936 by some of his devotees, its location is truly unique. Built into the side of a hill, with the river Bhageerathi flowing beneath, it is a picture of serene solitude. The kutia was a small, spartan one-room hut where Tapovanji lived; it remains the same, untouched, even today. The mud-walled, dung-floor hut contains his cot and kamandalu (water pot) and little else. But the little verandah outside the hut, where the Mahatma would sit and marvel at nature’s beauty or give Vedantic discourses, has been converted into a shrine. Devotees speak in hushed tones of profound experiences while meditating there. It is here that Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda spent several years studying at the feet of his guru.
Recently the capacity of Tapovan ashram was increased. A 3-storey building, Tapovan Chinmayam, built on land donated by a devotee, was inaugurated on 15 March 2005 by Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda. It has 24 well-equipped rooms with balconies, all with a breathtaking view of the Bhageerathi and surrounding mountain range.
Today the ashram can house around 130 people. The satsang hall on the ground floor of Tapovan Chinmayam can comfortably seat about 300 people. A large, white marble murti of Lord Jagadeeshwara sits in the middle of the stage, with Goddess Saraswati and Lord Ganesha gracing either side. Portraits of Swami Tapovanji Maharaj and Pujya Gurudev look on. The foyer is dedicated to a pictorial life sketch of Swami Tapovanji Maharaj.

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