Day 1 PDF Print E-mail

The journeys below are extracts and views of a student’s perspective written in a very informal format as they are personal notes and understandings about the Narmada and the work that was carried on:

1. Bombay-Bhopal (via Hoshangabad) Train Journey: (The First Glimpse)

Our journey started from CST formerly known as Victoria Terminus in Mumbai. This might not be symbolic for most people, but us as a group it was. We were undertaking a journey to a river that was older than the Ganga and that had a very distinctive identity like Victoria Terminus, now re-christened as CST.

The journey began on a high note and the entire group was excited and even thrilled with the idea and prospect of having being able to travel with a river. There was a sense of restlessness that was prevalent amongst us in the train, a restlessness that would only end with our first glimpse of the Narmada. We were told that Narmada needed to be experienced and it is only then that true learning would take place.

We were travelling by the Punjab Mail and had some prior inclination that our first glimpse would be just before Hoshangabad. The time was around 8 a.m. and a few us who were awake decided to get off at the next train station. We opened the door of the train we were welcomed with a burst of hot humid air. There was something up ahead that caught our eyes when we leaned out of the window, it was a big bridge. Our hearts were racing and throbbing; it would be the first time we would see the river.

The river was not as satiated and enormous as we had assumed and thought it would be, because of the season that we were visiting the river but nonetheless we could assume the size of the river by looking at the various water marks on the banks of the rivers.

The river being empty had its consequences and advantages. The consequence was that this would severely hamper the scenic beauty of the Narmada, and that this would not be an ideal river. The advantage was that it jolted us back to reality and a harsh May Summer. It helped us because our sky high expectations were right back to where they ought to have been.

We went back to our berths, not disappointed, not rejoicing but thinking about the river, and the experiences that it would have to offer. We did not know where we were heading, what we wished to be done or for that matter, if we would feel anything for the river. What we did have was our faith and belief in our idea. It was this idea and belief that triggered the group to be more focused on our project. We believe that as a group, it was the first sighting of the river that truly bought us closer together.

2. Jabalpur to Amarkantak: (29th May) by car:

We woke up in the morning with the plan of visiting Gwari ghat, which was on the outskirts of Jabalpur. We left at around 10:00 a.m. in the morning from our hotel at Jabalpur expecting a long and tiring day ahead. We were planning on reaching Amarkantak before nightfall because of the uncertainty of the road that lay ahead and travelling by night should always be avoidable.

Gwari ghat is considered one of the most beautiful areas and places of Jabalpur. This ghat has one of the best locations and is visited frequently by tourists. Jabalpur is one area along the river where there are factories along the river and it is a more commercial area that other parts of Madhya Pradesh.

The ghat was like most other ones that we had seen both in Hoshangabad and on our way to Jabalpur. After taking our photos and conducting a few interviews, we decided to leave for Amarkantak. On our way the urge and love for Pizzas overcame and we stopped at a recently opened Domino’s store and had an extremely heavy lunch. Lunch became an informal group meeting and we as a group discussed the future plans and discussed the places where we would stop on our way to Amarkantak.

The journey to Amarkantak which ordinarily would take 3 hours to complete from Jabalpur, took us 7 hours. The reason was simple. We stopped at all the places that came along the road that were either directly or indirectly related to the Narmada. We stopped at a fossil park along the road to Amarkantak and then eventually at Dr.Chaurasia’s house who is considered as a leading expert and negotiator with the Baiga tribe. We were invited into his office where we spoke for about an hour and where we discussed the Baiga tribe their culture, their lifestyle and the impact of the various social-cultural factors on them.

With a promise of taking us to the Baiga village, we left the Doctor’s house and continued onward with our journey towards Amarkantak. It was proving to be the popular adage where the journey was more important than our destination. On the way we came across a village market and stopped at the Narmada Grameen Bank. The Bank’s name tells us how the effect of the river extends even beyond activities directly or in-directly associated with the river.

Our drive from the village market till Amarkantak was uninterrupted as it was dark and there was very poor visibility on the road. The journey ended when we reached Amarkantak and rested at the Kalyan Ashram at Amarkantak.


 

“A man in love with his environment is the happiest man in the universe.”