Most often, it’s the spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment ‘plans’ that turn out to be the most satisfying! The drive to Ghoradeshwar was just that!
It was a beautiful Sunday morning, and I, instead of going to church, impulsively decided on a drive instead. Being dragged out of bed so early and climbing a hill wasn’t quite the husband’s idea of a perfect, lazy weekend, but then again, he’s a sweet guy and I’m insistent.
We were out of the house by 8am, and shortly, on NH4, enjoying the cool, crisp morning breeze and unnaturally clear roads.
We chose to drive to Ghoradeshwar, mostly because I had been there on a trek with friends earlier this year, and we had ended up climbing the wrong hill. This time, I wanted to get it right.
We had no trouble with directions, and fortunately, we arrived at our destination in good time. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a flight of stone steps leading up to the Ghoradeshwar Temple. Steps weren’t what I had signed up for…steps are simply tiresome! But we were here, and the only way I wanted to go, was up – although, I suspect, the husband wouldn’t have minded taking a U-turn that led him straight back to his preferred, relaxed Sunday morning.
So up we went, beginning our ascent from the point where Nandi sat, presumably facing the Shiv temple, with a tortoise carved on the ground in front of it.
Colourful wildflowers dotted the slopes, thankfully distracting us from the laborious climb. We stopped ever so frequently to admire and photograph the beautiful blooms! We bypassed the steps for a good distance too, wandering into paths less trodden, discovering enchanting flora – some known, some new.
We came upon the caves that housed the Shiv temple rather suddenly. They reminded me of the Buddhist caves at Bhaje, although these looked like they had been carved purely for utility, not beauty. According to archaeologists, these are 3rd or 4th century Buddhist caves, carved from a single rock. What was then the chaityagriha, is now the Ghoradeshwar Temple.
Two small arched doorways lead to the temple, where a second Nandi sits, facing the rock-cut Shiv Ling, a brass snake, a trishul (trident), and a damru (drum).
A small, red shrine to Hanuman stands under a tree, adjacent to the temple.
A slender path continues beyond this temple towards another. This trail was narrow, and a tad scary in certain places where a slight misstep could have landed us in the valley – especially near the second cave we came across, further up the path.
But the scenery was stupendous, with wildflowers nodding in the breeze, and views of a beautiful, verdant city all around. We could also see the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in the distance.
The pathway led to steep, rough and irregular steps cut into the rock face, the only way to get to the other Shiv temple from this side of the hill. The steps were narrow and looked highly precarious, and this was where my courage failed me.
I wasn’t confident I could climb this without some assistance – the husband had settled himself into a comfortable spot near the temple, while I had walked on to explore the hill further. I didn’t quite relish the thought of tumbling down the hill either. So, while a tiny, adventurous part of me egged me on to try the climb, the sensible (or cowardly) part of me warned me not to leave my family missing one valuable (I like to think so) member. So I didn’t. I turned back and walked toward the temple, and encountered this little bird singing lustily on a treetop, along the way.
The climb down was faster, and this time, we followed the steps all the way down. Dark clouds had started rolling in, bringing with them, the promise of rain.