Generally done on foot and over 6 months minimum, this adventurous duo from Pune did it on cycles in 24 days. Omkar Bramhe and Shirish Deshpande's trip is worthy of a feature as it is something we all can add to our bucket list. If not for salvation this parikrama is a must for the experience which is truly divine in it's scale.
Narmada Parikrama is a Hindu pilgrimage where the devotee has to complete a round of the river Narmada. This tradition has been ongoing since the last thousands of years and there is no tradition of Parikrama around any other river other than the Narmada. Parikrama means to go around a thing or a person in a clockwise direction starting from a point and stopping at the same point. Some people do Narmada Parikrama for spiritual reasons while some people do it to accomplish some earthly things like “mannat” or a wish. The devotees doing the Parikrama are respected and given all possible help by the local people. Local people consider the Narmada river as their mother. They call it “Narmada Maiyya” (Mother Narmada). It is one of the toughest Hindu pilgrimages in India. Some people die during this pilgrimage. If you die during the Parikrama, it is believed that you would get salvation. The adventurous duo of Shirish Deshpande and Omkar Brahme from Pune did the same with a twist. They completed the parikrama in a mere span of 24 days on cycles.
The total distance of the Parikrama is about 3500 kms of of which 2725 kms on the saddle. From the holy ghats of Omkareshwar the duo started the journey on the 28th of December 2020. The main rule for the Parikrama is that one must not cross the river. The parikrama is divided in two parts i.e. the Southern Bank and Northern Bank of Narmada Maiyya. A stretch of sea in between is covered by boat. A five hour long ride on the waves. Starting from Omkareshwar to Vimleshwar on the saddle. Then Vimleshwar to Mithitalai on a boat at night, which was covered at night from 3am to 8am by them. Then from Mithitalai to Amarkantak which is the origin of the mega river. Ending the journey by the last stretch of Amarkantak to Omkareshwar. The duo reached the point of origin on the 22nd Januray 2021 covering 4 states.
There are designated Seva Ashrams on the on the entire route where Parikramawasi i.e. the pilgrims on the journey can stay and are even provided with food as well. The locals along the entire journey are very helpful for the pilgrims and take extra effort serving tea and eatables. many cycle repair shopkeepers tend to serve free of cost to cyclist-pilgrims, as they feels that they are offering service for god's work. Omkar says that most of the repairmen are not used to geared bikes, so they are super curious about the gear mechanism and the cost of the bikes.
Simply expressing the entire experience in mere words might not do justice. But Omkar has a few to give an insight for our curious soul. Enthusiastic, cheerful, moral and humane peddling experience, as he calls it. While we all we at our homes and planning for trips during the first phase of lockdown in India, the cycling buds managed to make their own plans successful. let's take a little inspiration and plan one adventure that we have always wanted to when it's safer enough. These tough times have made us realise the importance of such things that make us feel alive. Finding some time from our usual 9 to 5 work lives, a new adventure awaits for us all right around the corner. Don't forget to share yours with us, we'll help you inspire others!
Omkar and Shirish are avid cyclists and have a team that cycles in and around Pune regularly. You can connect with the latter on Instagram for further tips and queries. Click here: @omkarbr
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