The Himalayan Mountains of India are always regarded as the hub for Spiritual experience and attainment. In our busy city life, we get engrossed in different materialistic things and our spiritual development takes a backseat. I love to travel and explore new places.
During my travel, I try to introspect my life, not in terms of materialistic things but as a human being.
I am spiritual, not a religious person. I love to visit different religious places because over the years I had experienced a “charge” in some religious places whereas in other places I had a feeling what so ever.
There are different methods of meditations like Vipassana meditation. For quite some time I was feeling that it is time to charge my batteries and deep clean & unclutter my mind. So I decided to go for a mediation and spiritual break in a place called Satkhol in the Himalayas. I meditate “Heartfulness” so I planned to go for it.
The Satkhol Himalayan Ashram is open for everyone but you have to take permission for the dates you want to visit. The natural resources are very limited in the Himalayas, we don’t realize that even a basic necessity like water is very limited.
Fortunately, I got the company for my visit. I booked train tickets until Kathgodam from Delhi. Kathgodam is the last railway station in this region of Himalayas and after that, it’s travel by road. The mountain ranges start from here and roads are full of twist and turn in mountains.
Our train reached Kathgodam before 12.00 Noon and from railway station we took a taxi to Sathkol ashram in Ramgarh.
Satkhol is a small village in Ramgarh tehsil of Nainital district in Uttrakhand. The road after Kathgodam is full of turns with trees or valleys on sides. We crossed the Bhimtal Lake on the way and finally reached Satkhol after 2.5 Hrs of driving in hills after taking a break.
We reached the Ashram and I instantly felt at peace. It was quiet, birds were chirping and a slow breeze was blowing as to welcome our arrival.
We have been advised by one of the inhabitants that we should use water very conservatively because it had not rained in last 8 months and water for the day to day activities comes from rainwater harvesting or from the natural spring water coming from the ground, which is known as “Nullas” in the local language.
These Nullas/spring water are the main source of water in most of the villages in hills as there are no rivers in the most area. The water comes out from the ground and it is stored for drinking as well as for all other purposes. These underground water sources get water from snowfall or rains.
Most of us read in books or Internet that Himalaya is the source of many rivers. These rivers don’t pass through many towns or villages and the Himalayan range is complex.
During my travel to hill areas in India and Nepal, I have noticed this water issue.
We kept our luggage in rooms, which were on the top of the hill called Babuji Nilayam and after that, we climbed down to the main ashram area. For people like us from plains it was steep descend or so we felt on the first day.
I walked on a path in the middle of the jungle and I felt at peace with myself. In the ashram, there is a meditation hall, a library, offices, a dining hall, a kitchen, and a canteen (Which opens in morning and evening).
There is a lot of open space with trees and flowers. The whole place was not the only delight for our senses but for our soul also.
Though spirituality (Which was the main purpose of traveling to Sathkol) has nothing to do with senses as a human being I can’t immune myself completely.
I stayed in Satkhol Himalayan Ashram for 5 nights and did meditation twice a day with other people, which was a routine one should follow at least. But for me sitting there in the middle of mountains, valleys & trees and looking at nothing, in particular, was kind of an experience.
I didn’t think of anything during those moments, not even remembered anything from my day-to-day life, it was a feeling of blankness. There was something in that place, which made me feel very content.
I carried my phone and even laptop (I thought I will write there in peace) but I didn’t use anything at all and neither I missed anything. I used my phone twice a day before starting and ending my day to call home so my family should not worry about my well being.
It was total digital detox. Infect when I returned back home, I realized that I didn’t think about the TV even once which is a part of our life.
I have come to know from people and locals from nearby areas that it is a place where in olden times many “Sadhu” (Monks) did deep meditation, with self-discipline, and reached Self-realization.
The name Satkhol is a combination of two words – “Satya” and “Khol” which means “Opening & Realisation of the truth”, which makes it a high spiritual place in the region.
There are many such places in the Himalayas and that’s why many people go Himalayan Mountains for Yoga and meditation. These places have “Charge” from their spiritual energies for centuries.
While we were there it rained twice after 8 months of drought. People working there were so happy after rain.
I was in front of the valley and mountains when it rained and for the first time in my life, I noticed the rain falling from clouds. It was an amazing sight.
That night after the rain stopped it felt mysterious when we walked back to our rooms from a forested area. Nature has its own ways to show us it’s colors and teach different things in life.
It felt so because of the clouds, in between lightning and sound of leaves due to the wind. This is the second time I noticed the strange sound of strong wind (Before that I experienced it in Munnar, where I stayed in a tea garden in the middle of nowhere). That sound has an element of drama in it but an experience to remember.
The trees were home to many birds. I saw and heard many new birds and their voices. There is a docile & friendly dog named Delphie in the ashram, who never barked or disturbed anyone. I came to know there were two dogs earlier but a leopard killed one dog and other one died few days after his disappearance.
Leopard…. Yes, you read it right.
The area is surrounded by forest and there is sometimes leopard roaming around Ashram. Infect during our stay we came to know a leopard was seen near the gate.
Some of the people got a bit scared when they heard about leopard as most of us use to walk to our rooms after dinner through the forested area. But local people from ashram told us that the path is illuminated with light bulbs and there is a high fence, so it is safe to walk. Moreover, leopard is a shy animal and he mostly makes dogs or goats its target.
In ashram I met people of all age groups (From 17 to 65 Yrs), they were from all over India and some of them from different countries of Europe. It was a perfect amalgamation of different people and all of them were living in perfect harmony.
It was a wonderful experience. All I did during my stay was walking up and downhill every day, mediate in between, went for walk on paths inside ashram, helped people working in the kitchen and looked into infinity thinking nothing. The peace and serenity of the place rejuvenated me and refreshed my system.
Things to remember while visiting Satkhol Himalayan Ashram –
* Take medication if you have motion sickness problem in mountains.
* Don’t use mobile or other digital gadgets or use them bare minimum to detox your system.
* You can do any volunteer work as you wish though they don’t ask you to do anything. Do what makes you happy.
* Use water very conservatively and help the nature.
* Drink more water to keep yourself hydrated.
* There is no charge for a practitioner of Sahaj Marg meditation system. You can donate if you wish to do so. (No one will ask you for it neither it is mandatory)
* Fresh vegetarian meals are served thrice a day, which are free of cost.
* You can take kids with you after taking permission.
* Those coming from different parts of India or internationally and taking a train from Delhi railway station can stay overnight in the Delhi ashram of SRCM.