My Spiritual Trip - Soul Searching

Tapas Sarkar

Tapas Swarup Sarkar joined the Department of Customs and Central Excise in the year 1976 as Inspector and took voluntary retirement in 2011 as Deputy Commissioner. Tapas was a passionate football player during his school and college days. These days he practices yoga regularly. He is also involved with several social welfare activities. Tapas is a member of Achachak Ashram of Swami Swarupananda Paramahansadev he now lives in Kolkata with his family.


One day my neighbor, colleague, and friend Mr.  Gora Chatterjee requested me to accompany him to visit Kedarnath, Badrinath along with Josh Math, Rudraprayag, Rishikesh, and Haridwar.

My friend Gora Chatterjee and I with the majestic Himalayas as backdrop

I was hesitant to go considering my age as I'm 69 yrs; I might not be able to cope up with this difficult mountain trek route. But my only daughter Dr. Gargi not only encouraged me but also promised to sponsor my trip.

At last, I agreed to this.

On 2.6.23 my friend and I took the afternoon flight from Kolkata to Delhi and reached at 6.30 pm. We approached a travel agency to book 2 bus tickets for us.

 Before our scheduled departure time we reached the bus depot and found there was no such bus.  We understood that we have become the victim of a fraud.  We then came back to the same travel agency and claimed for refund.  After much argument and persuasion, the refund was made.  Immediately we left the place and arrived at New Delhi railway station in search of alternative arrangements to go to Haridwar. 

All of a sudden I remembered that Dr.  Kotraswami an officer of our department of 2006 batch is now posted in Delhi as Addl. Commissioner who is very close to me. I would like to give a little introduction about  Dr. Swami here.

During 2007, I was holding charge of Sangli Div with Ratnagiri Division under Pune III Commisionerate as DY. Commissioner.  After completion of his probation period, Dr. Kotraswami was posted in Pune III and ultimately in Ratnagiri as Assistant Commissioner.  Later Dr. Swami and myself became very close and our friendship still continues. Dr. Swami is humble, honest and helpful, and extremely disciplined.  In a very brief period of time, he has created a very bright and successful name in the department with his diligence. 

When he got a call from me, he personally came to help me at night and stayed with me till midnight till I left the place for Haridwar in a  rented car arranged by him.   He is such a valued friend and a great human being. 

The next day that is  3rd of June early morning we reached Haridwar and checked into a hotel.  After little rest and breakfast, we went to Haridwar River Ghat to take a dip in the holy river Ganga.  It was a soul-soothing experience.  I felt that my body has become calm and light.  We witnessed a spectacular  Sandhya Aarti at the Ghat though there was a huge crowd.  

Sandhya Arti at Haridwar Ganga Ghat with huge crowds 

On 4th June at around 7 am we left for Kedarnath and reached Ram Nagar at 10.30 pm due to excessive road congestion and then at night 2.30 am we reached the checkpoint for document verification. 

After completion of all the formalities, we left the place on horseback as the helicopter service was unavailable.  The  10 hours of horse ride both ways was extremely painful and strenuous. The terrain was risky too.

Ganga Ghat at Haridwar embracing Dusk 

 Even a minor slip could lead to injury and be fatal as well. I gathered all my courage together and pulled through this tremendous journey and God was there to protect us.

 At around 11 am, we reached Kedarnath temple, so Divine and serene it was surrounded by snow-capped mountains. 

now-capped Mountain at Badrinath 

We booked a tent to stay that night and went to offer puja at the temple.  The next day we started our return journey again on horseback.  After 5 hours of extremely tedious and risky journey, we reached Ram Nagar and boarded our hired car for Badrinath.

 At 10.30 pm we reached Joshimath and halted there.  The next morning we left Joshimath at 9.30 am and reached Badrinath at 11.30 am.

We stayed at Bharat Sevashram Sangh Math just 5 minutes away from the temple. We offered our puja at Badrinath temple after taking a bath at a hot spring near the temple.

 It was a wonderful experience and eased our tiredness from the horse ride. Around Badrinath there were gigantic mountains covered with snow and the climate was very cool and pleasant.  The next morning we went to visit Mana village on Indo China border,  a very beautiful place with excellent scenic beauty. 

We left the place in the afternoon and came back to Haridwar via Rudraprayag and Rishikesh, where we halted for a while for sightseeing. 

8th n 9th June we stayed at Haridwar and explored the surrounding places. We also visited the famous ashram and Ayurveda hospital of Patanjali established by Baba Ramdev. It is very beautiful and serves many poor people

On the 10th evening, we boarded the train from Haridwar for our destination to Kolkata.  We were back home safely on the 12th morning. 

Tapas at the entrance of Rudraprayag 

This trip healed my soul and soothed my body and energized my mind to a different level and boosted my confidence that come what may I can still conquer hurdles that life may throw up.  Looking forward to a new journey,  new exploration, and new destinations. 

                                      YEH DIL MAANGE MORE.

POST SCRIPT: Tapas Sarkar has reported happy tidings for his friend  Dr. Kotraswami. Dr. Swami has been promoted to Commissioner of  GST and Customs. 

Furthermore, Dr.Swami has been selected for  Presidential Award for his outstanding contribution to the Department. He will receive the award on 21st July 2023.

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