Kanhangad - 2018
From Kochi, I took the train up to Kanhangad to visit Bhagavan Nityananda’s ashram and Guruvanam for a few days. I don’t like to plan all the details when I travel. I like to leave some room to see where spirit guides me and be open to what might happen and who I might meet. And going to Kanhangad couldn’t have been a better example of this. Bhagavan Nityananda has become very special to me, so I knew I wanted to visit his ashram where he once performed so many miracles. Underneath the ashram there are tunnels with 43 guhas (holy caves) for meditation. These caves were carved by hand (some of it by Nityananda himself) and is considered to be an engineering marvel even to this day.
I also visited Guruvanam the site where he brought water from the Ganges (which is far away) out of the side of the mountain there. The water source is still flowing and people visit this site where he once performed tapas (meditation). When I get to Guruvanam, no one else is there except for a group of children on a field trip from school. Nityananda loved children and is known for having a lot of compassion for them and did a lot to provide education and build schools. This is a site that tourists often go to, so having the whole place to myself with these children was such a blessing. A blessing I consider to be from Nityananda himself. This special picture captures that moment and the look on some of their faces is priceless! They were so sweet and I cherished meeting them and spending time with them.
While up there I looked for an Airbnb and found one in Nileshwar, a nearby city and stayed there in a small fishing village. The host of the property, Krishnan was so kind and gracious and took me for an early morning tour of the fishing village. It was a really great experience walking around the village that early in the morning and seeing what the locals caught. The men were out fishing and the women were gathering sand from the beach to help build a structure. I was really impressed with the way they carried those heavy bags on their heads!
When Krishnan found out I’m an Ayurveda practitioner from the US and how passionate I am about it, he told me that one of his close friends has a medicinal plant nursery and asked if I wanted to go. Of course I said yes, and not just yes…but HELL YES! And I was lucky enough to meet P.V. Divakaran, who is a master herbalist with many accolades and honors from the government. He was gracious enough to invite me into his home, give me a tour around his garden and share many stories with me. This was a completely unexpected experience and a great honor and blessing to learn from someone who is doing so much work for the education and conservation of Ayurvedic medicinal plants.
In plants I trust, in Ayurveda I trust, in spirit I trust and I really do believe it guided me here. And to quote one of my favorite sayings from Nityananda, “The heart is the hub of all sacred places, go there and roam.”