Nothing Is Better Than Sitting On Your PC Early Morning, While The Silver Clouds Heavily Shower The Water-Drops … 🙂 😀 That day too, It was raining heavily.. the green foliage outside rapidly seemed to unfold and stretch out to each drop that massaged life onto them.. I looked outside the window, holding carefully the paper cup holding coffee so as not to spill it. The train raced noisily to a destination I had so yearned to be to. Life has passed by many milestones.. memories hopped like restless birds from one tree branch to another.. and some dripped like those raindrops hanging loosely on the twigs, waiting to cause a small ripple in the puddle of life below. The rail routes to a seemingly endless journey.. But I have a destination determined to reach and explore.
Last night was a busy night as I had packed my bags hastily when the reservation was confirmed last-minute. Visitng Shukra Taal was significant to me in many ways. It was going to be my birthday day after and I wished to be at a place that was unique for its ageless Kalpvriksh, for its amazing temples and for its very rustic feel of the earthen India, the raw mud houses on the way and kuchha bumpy roads and for it being the place that held significance for my name, that almost gave me my name. My father was very attached to his grandmother, even more than his own mother. His dadiji ( that is, my great grand mom) belonged to the remote village of Laank, situated in Kairana taluk (district) and so, the journey meant much more than mere birthday fun for me. And I never knew, it would turn out to be a sipritual home-coming of sorts. Prior to that, I had tried to google out as much information about the place as I could to the best of my efforts, but to my disappointment nothing much came up. I did get to read amazing stories about the coming up of Muzaffarnagar in the ancient times, historical facts, anecdotes, features and worth visiting places or monuments; but nothing much about this! I couldn’t find a single review and it was then I decided, let me return to write one! 🙂
I was actually going to Visit the Shukartal Temple, which is revered by the Hindus, located 30 km from the city. It is known as the temple where, Maharshi Sukhdev narrated the Bhagwat Gita to Raja Parikshit. there, A must see is the Akshya Wat and a 72 ft. statue of Hanumanji located in Hanumatdham in Shukartaal. Although, An attractive historical monument is the Bahu Ko Mazaar, where the wife of Saiyed Munawaar Laskar Khan was buried, main on my family’s agenda was a visit to the temple, and good it was, as we realised after we spent the entire day trying to touch upon only some of the aspects of the historically intriguing, beautiful but beggar ridden, poverty struck but awe-inspiring temple and its neighbouring premises. Located in U.P.’s Muzaffarnagar, 29° 26′ 60 N, 77° 34′ 60 E where Hindi is spoken with aplomb and Sindhi, Urdu and English are spoken in varying degrees, and the Climate / Weather is something like Summer: 43°C to 30°C / Winter: 25 °C to 5 °C.
[ The bustling city of Muzaffarnagar is the headquarters of the Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh. It was founded by Sayyid Munawar Lashkar Ali, in 1633 to honour his father Sayyid Muzaffar Ali Khan, the ruler of the princely state under the Mughal Emperor Akhbar.However, the rich cultural heritage of the city can be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization. According to folk legends, Mahabharata was actually waged in the fields of the village Pachenda and army camps were pitched in the villages of Pandavli and Kaurawali villages. Muzaffarnagar was in the limelight during the Indian freedom struggle.Scenically located in the Doab region, the fertile land of Muzaffarnagar is an ecological paradise for tourists. A unique variety of flora and fauna flourish in the surrounding areas near the rivers. Picturesque locations, adventure sports, rustic villages and folklores are what Muzaffarpur is known for, apart from being a trading center.With impetus on ecological conservation, Muzaffarnagar has grown to be a city with increasing tourist destinations. The conservation of a variety of avian and animal species, dense foliage and dense forests are part of the endeavor ecological preservation. Better transportation and communication facilities, budget accommodations and a variety of scenic locations attract many to Muzzafarnagar. You can explore historic monuments and go around the local bazaars to shop for local handicrafts or take a tour of places surrounding Muzaffarnagar – Meerut city, Hastinapur, New Delhi and Panipat. ]
I was to get down at a station midway where mom, dad and bhaiya (reaching us from another destination) would pick me up and then, we would all together proceed in a car to the destined place. Since I had chosen a very suitable month, the month of February for the trip, we had thought, it would be quite pleasant, but it was not to be so, exactly for the entire trip. It was raining and drizzling continuously, and as opposed to the train journey, I could not keep the glass rolled down as the sudden showers of splashing rain would leave us drenched, squelching and squirming in our tight spots! 😛 Plus, the bumpy dusty ride made sure all of us learnt to sit awake and carry some cushions next time as also prefer to sit in the front rather than at the back seat of the car.
We early finished with our water supply as it was getting inclement one moment, humid the next yet leaving an arid feeling since we were sitting tight shut inside. Mom was thirsty and so was I but my cleanliness freak bro decided we would stop only at a place that was decent. Finally we stopped at a very expensive kiosk which could be rated to the standard of a mini-dhaba. There we downed 3 glasses of Sugarcane-juice each whereas mom chose to go in for her regular pomegranate juice.
Shukdev Temple : This majestic temple has beautifully carved idols of Sage Shukdev and King Parikshit. Shukrataal is located in very peaceful area, surrounded by villages. This famous holy tourist place is located on Muzaffar Nagar – Bhopa Road (Muzaffar Nagar Bypass). As we moved ahead, we crossed places that were cleaner, with better roads and sights worth clicking. Through the car-window, it was sheer green transparency! Since it was raining, the entire route had got transformed into something like poetry, exceptional in the capture of lovely palms stretched out to receive the tiny droplets that instead were turning out to be a major downpour, the rivulet dat ran through the green yellows, dancing hand in hand were the reeds standing beside it! Bright lush green shoots and leaves trying to find ground with the blue rain that seemed hell-bent on beating them hollow and blue! 😉 As if, each new sapling, that shot up saying, I am a hope alive, a hope to survive… green sword that cuts through the dry deserts of this terrain! Err.. sorry, I got carried away and took a bit of poetic liberty, Muzaffarnagar is no desert. Agriculture is the main profession in this belt because the Land here is very good for agriculture. Sugar Cane (Ganna), wheat (genhu) and rice (bhaat/chaawal) being the main crops here (that grow in such abundance that often sugarcane is burnt each year if the desired price is not received), it is one of the most fertile and rich belts of North India, thereby equipping people with power, even if with not much of education (thereby meaning courtesy and etiquette, at the coast and cost of increased literacy rate). yes, power in strength and power in light, saying light me up but they never seem to bother. This was obvious as we neared the place, narrowing down to the exact gulleys where we were supposed to reach.
Anyway, getting back to the purpose of my write, we ultimately reached the place, Shukrataal, where we quenched our thirsts with the help of the hand pumps affixed in some old building in dilapidated condition, perhaps carrying some historical value, but too much in shambles to be of any interest, especially because of the many families and some government office that occupied it shamelessly. As we were just about to climb the lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng crazy looking stack of stairs, the very sight of which was making me feel dizzy, I realized, there were just toooo many beggars to stand there and bother about the stairs. I started climbing fast with the rest of my family.
Shukrataal is a place of great religious and historical importance, a famous Hindu holy place situated on the bank of River Ganges,. According to mythology, about 5000 years ago, Sage Shukdev, had recited the Shrimad Bhagwat Katha (Bhagavad Gita) for seven days to King (Raja) Partikshit, the son of Abhimanyu and the grandson of Arjun. On a hillock stands the big Akshayavat (The banyan tree) under which the sage recited this is known as the Akshayavat which means the Undying Tree. The uniqueness of this tree as its name suggests is that it does not shed leaves. A temple was built near the banyan tree under which Maharishi Sukdev is believed to have narrated the story.
As I finally reached up the stairs, the sight of the tree and the lovely brimming sparkling but seemingly calm Ganges was a breathtaking delight. 🙂 Suddenly, I got the shock of my life to see the numerous Langurs out there! I would have shrieked had the sadhuji there not told me that they dont bother the visitors, the langurs are very used to them since years. We did the requisite pooja, tied the sacred thread to one of the teeming branches of the banyan tree, ate the prasad and then embarked on a foot journey, sans guide to explore the other wonders of the place. We discovered these:
Lord Hanuman Temple :
In close proximity to Shukdev temple, stands the beautiful Hanuman Temple. This Temple has an idol of Lord Hanuman carrying a mountain, containing the ‘Sanjivani’ herb as depicted in the epic Ramayana.
Lord Shankar Temple : On the north-west of Shukdev Temple, on a small hillock, stands Lord Shankar temple. The idols in the temple are of Lord Shiva and other gods.
Swami Charandasji Temple : Under the immortal Akshayavat stands this ‘initiation’ temple of Swami Charandasji. There is an idol of sage Sukhdev in the temple depicting him narrating the Shrimadbhagwat.
Lord Ram Temple :
Inspired by Swami Kalyan Devji maharaj, a majestic temple dedicated to Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman was constructed behind Lord Shankar Temple.
Goddess Shakambhari Temple : To the west of Lord Shankar Temple, on raised platform stands a beautiful, spherical temple dedicated to goddess Shakambhri. Inspired by Ma Anandmayi, this temple was constructed by shri Goojarmal Modi, an industrialist.
Neelkanth Mahadev Temple : As per belief, after consuming the poison which emerged during the churning of the ocean, Lord Shiva, while returning to his abode, Mount Kailash, rested at Shukrataal. To mark this place, Adi Shankaracharya constructed this temple here.
Ganga Temple :
A stone tablet at the entrance of this temple states, in Sanskrit and Arabic, that the temple was erected in the year 1401. Inside the temple one can see the idols of Goddess Ganga, sage Shukdev, Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Kartik and Lakshman. The walls and the roof of the temple are covered with centuries old, intricate paintings of Lord Krishna’s Ras-Leela.
Other attractions are Laxminarayn temple, Parvati Temple, Shiv Dham, Ganesh Dam, Hanumat Dham, Geet Bhawan and Yagyashala.
Since the day was spent and me & my bro had a working day the next day, it was time to return home. But just prior to that, we quickly paid a visit to the other-wise busy but right-now empty open ghats of the mighty Ganga. With its immense waters washing our feet and the slushy miry swampy kuchha ghat ready to suck & drown us into them any time, it was an overwhelming feel and a stupendous sight. The swirling and twirling youthful waters told us that the same sparkling Ganaga with its gushing speed wouldn’t get so easily soiled to become the slow sluggish aged river further on if it were not for the thankless selfish people who washed too many of their sins and dirty linen into its waters.
After this visit, I had this to say : As we tread along unknown paths, hoping for clear skies..gathering the flowers of experience from the sidewalks of our life, We shall all, sooner or later, come one day to realise, that the best lessons are only learnt when we brave thunders and clouded skies 🙂 Just as this trip was : A patch of enlightenment on my fresh green mind.. From darkness to light! :):)