the place shrouded in fog, the pilgrim gets the impression that the two
storied pentagonal gurudwara is seemingly suspended amidst the seven peaks and
anchored to the ground by the gleaming silver of the Hemkunt lake.
The pilgrim is overwhelmed by the darshan (sight) of Sri Hemkunt Sahib and the
fact that one has at last reached the final destination. A plunge into the
sarovar to to cleanse oneself is a must . This is a holy ritual followed
in most gurudwaras, The men do so in the open while for the ladies, part of the
stream has been ingeniously diverted into the lower floor of the gurudwara for
them to take the plunge in privacy . The icy waters originating from glacial
seem daunting but the ishnaan (holy bath) refreshes one, not just physically but
spiritually. The cold is quelled with the piping cups of hot tea served
immediately after the ishnaan.
Considering the water of the Hemkunt lake as holy many people fill their bottles
with the water terming it as 'amrit' (nectar) . The pilgrims don new
clothes after the ishnaan and head towards the darbar sahib situated on
the upper floor As one climbs up to the darbar hall , one cannot but feel the
urge and desire to pray - such is the atmosphere . Across the carpeted hall ,
the pilgrims approach Guru Granth Sahib to pay their respect.
As they bow their heads and do the parikarma ( going around the platform ),
Almighty is thanked for all that he has blessed them with and the fact that they
have successfully reached the destination of Hemkunt. Offerings are made in
the form of rumalas (cloth used to cover the Guru Granth Sahib), ornaments ,
items for the langar , flowers etc. Wrapped in blankets , the pilgrims meditate , read or recite from the japji
sahib, sing sahad kirtan or just immerse themselves in the ambience of the place
. Two congregational services are held at Hemkunt Sahib-one in the morning at
around ten and another in the afternoon.
The granthi tells the gathered
congregation the significance of the journey proceeding on the story of Hemkunt
as it has been described in Bachitra Natak. Unified by the ardas the people pray
in unison . Cries of ' Jo bole so nihal , Sat Sri Akal!' rent the air and are
repeated a number of times . The karah prasad is then savored with a unique
sense of satisfaction and contentment . After the pilgrims come down from the
darbar hall, langar prasad is also served.
When the fog lifts the surroundings come into view , the pilgrims stand in front
of the lake and try to locate the seven peaks which are marked by flags. Excited
voices reveal the success of having been able to do so . The sevadars at the
gurudwara then tell the pilgrim various stories about celestial vision and
sounds. Many people go to the small Laxman Mandir near the gurudwara to pay
their respect .Some look for brahma kamals- unusual flowers with a heady
fragrance growing on the slopes around the lake.
The pilgrims cannot stay beyond a few hours because the place becomes too cold
with time and the air is rarefied, therefore the descent to start early for
climbing down to as difficult as climbing up. The objective for most for
the people is to either reach Gobind Dham to halt there for the night or even
proceed further down to Gobind Ghat spend a restful night.
As pilgrim readies to undertake the journey back , thoughts come crowding into
his mind , a recollection of the past journey and the efforts put in .During the
time of ascent , the entire concentration of the pilgrim is focused on the
ultimate destination. The difficult terrain is crossed but it is only now that
one realizes that if even now , with better roads , it is so difficult to travel
up to Hemkunt- what must it have been for the people , who made the unique and
beautiful gurudwara at Hemkunt possible , at a time with virtually non -existent
roads ! It is but natural for the pilgrim to utter silent words of gratitude and
admiration for the people whose dedicated efforts made the gurudwara at Hemkunt
possible. The gurudwara at Hemkunt leaves a deep impression on the pilgrim which
is why , inspire of all encountered , one keeps returning again to undertake the
scared journey to Hemkunt.