My 17 Day Peace Pilgrimage on Foot
“We have no peace; it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other – We are ONE” - Mother Teresa
From March 29th to April 16th (2014) I embarked on a walking pilgrimage as my humble effort to find peace within myself and share and spread peace around me. I started at the my home in Kandivali, Mumbai and walked to World Peace Pole at ESI Sugadh via the Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram.
As I continue my research and efforts in understanding human behavior and expanding myself on journey from “mind” to “Heart”, I feel if there are three most important things for the survival of peace in our human race, it is:
Kindness is one thing my father taught me most of the time in my childhood. He continues to be the person who impacted my values and thoughts the most. As I grew and went to college, it was my understanding that one needs to be well-read and well educated to be able to rationalize things around us. The more one was able to intellectualize an idea, the more intelligent a person seemed. But I could not help and notice, the most well-read or educated people were not necessarily the most peaceful people. In fact, in most cases it was the opposite. So my quest was….. .ON….. And is ON, where does one actually find peace?
My Peace Pilgrimage to World Peace Pole via Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram passing through the serene beautiful villages of my country has given me answers to which even my “Wellness Knowledge Bank” – my very rich library did not give me. (I have a very large collection of the best of Wellness and Spirituality related books / audio / videos from around the world)
I have travelled in almost 30 countries around the world in my amazing 30 years of corporate life but these 19 days were my first experiment to surrender completely to the universal energy and not take any personal charge of my journey. I feel privileged and humbled by the kindness of universe and especially of the people I interacted in Gujarat villages that took care of me and nourished me with their love and care.
Please find the brief account of one of the best trips of my life.
Day 1: Saturday – March 29th 2014.
I began my Walking Peace Pilgrimage in the morning at 4.30 am from my house in Kandivali with Bhumi – my daughter and Vijay Yadav – my office manager and my biggest supporter and with blessings of my parents. After walking for about 5 km with them, I continued my onward journey alone. Alone in physical terms, but Shiva was with me all the time. I never felt alone. Most of the time, people asked me how did you manage to walk alone? My reply was all the time that Shiva was with me all the time.
I took a small break at Lodha Dham around 10 am and then proceeded to reach Vasai at about 12.30 pm at my very dear brother in law, Divyesh Mehta’s office. My sister Pragna had sent some breakfast items so we had a wonderful late breakfast followed by a lovely lunch. Then, I rested there till 4 pm. I once again started my walk again till about 6.30 pm as I took break for the day at Mahavir Dham - a Jain temple in Sirsad, Virar. I decided to rest at the temple but there was a strange clause - they did not allow a single person to rest there. Only people with families could rest. After talking for some time with the authorities, they took Rs 100/- charge from me to stay at night in the temple hall. In the evening and as most of the people resting in their rooms, I got an opportunity to talk with the authorities on the purpose of my walk. Immediately on understanding my purpose they decided to shift me from the proposed community hall, to a personal room with attached bathroom. And as I spoke to them about my experiments & faith on universe, my peace walk to Pakistan & my work in the field of wellness serving humanity they immediately decided to return Rs. 100/- back to me and offered my stay for free. Thus I ended my 1st day of Peace Pilgrimage with full satisfaction, covering about 40 km.
Day 2: Sunday – March 30th 2014
I got up early as 4.00 am and I started walking from morning 5.30 am once again on National Highway No 8. Early morning walk was always very pleasant and you start the day with lots of energy. I was able to cover a good distance. Somehow, the weather was very kind. There used to be a nice wind flowing all the while. I kept walking till about 9.30 am and took a break once again at a Jain temple. After resting for about an hour, I once again started to walk to reach to a Shiva Temple right on the highway. I stopped here noticing the chanting of some mantras in the temple. I sat and enjoyed listening to the chanting. Puja was done by about 12 noon. I was given a big ladu in prasad. While consuming my prasad, I understood that on all Sundays, the founder of the temple organizes puja. He asked me the reason of my walk and he immediately offered me to rest in the room attached to the temple. I was pleasantly surprised and I accepted his offer & rested in the room, but there was no electricity. It was a very hot afternoon, but by about 2.00 pm, the electricity came back and the fan was on, so I could sleep for some time. Once again, I started walking at about 4.30 pm. As I walked passed small villages, I did not realise where time flew. I reached a place where there were some pure vegetarian restaurants. On reaching close to it, I observed that most of the pure vegetarian restaurants on highways were run by Muslims brothers. It was strange, but then again I thought maybe its business. It was now 7.00 pm and it was time to find a place to sleep. There was no village around and it was getting really dark. So, I decided to rest in one of these restaurants. I requested one of the owners to allow some space for a night in their compound. He said, space was not a problem, but he looked at me and said, “Big mosquitoes will suck your blood in the open”. As I offered to stay in open, he gave me a typical cot at the side of the restaurant, near the truck parking area. After walking 40 kms a day, a person rarely even realizes if the mosquito is biting him or not. I had Shiva with me all the time. I felt fortunate to be in a safe space and rested on the cot using a sleeping bag given by my friend, Nehal. I saw the stars in the sky and I felt, what better room I could be in unlike a 5 star hotel…... well…...it was like sleeping under millions of stars. I call it a million star hotel. I slept in no time and I slept well. Thus second day too ended very well.
Day 3: Monday – March 31st 2014 auspicious day of “Gudi Padwa”
Today I got up at around 3.30 am. I immediately chose to freshen up and start walking. I left at about 3.45 am and on the way I met with a group of Jain Sadhus and Sadhvijis on the road around 5.30 am and got their blessings and I kept walking. I reached the auspicious Mahalaxmi temple near Dahanu at around 9.30am. As I was beginning to settle down after Mataji’s darshan on the auspicious Gudi Padwa day, I went to a sugarcane juice vendor and asked for a glass of fresh juice. We spoke for some time and she offered me another one. I paid for two glasses but she just took money for only one glass. She said, the second one glass was her offer. She also showed me a way to a Dharamshala in the next building where I could get some rest. Here, I bought a lot of fresh fruits. After rest and taking a bath, I ate all those delicious fruits. I once again began my walk at 4 pm, I stopped once again at a Jain temple called “Paras Vadlo”. I again found a place to rest in a Jain temple. However, there was only one room there, in which the caretaker cum manager of the temple lived. He asked me if I would like to share the room with him. I agreed and rested in the night there. Practically at every 15 km there will be some Jain temple on road. All were built to support Vihar of Jain Sadhus, Sadhvijis and also pilgrims like me.
Day 4 : Tuesday – April 1st 2014
In the morning as I was ready to leave from “Paras Vadlo” by 4.30 am but I was not allowed to leave as their Sadhvijis were going to leave the temple by 5.30 am and only after they leave anyone could step out of the gate. Well, I was stuck. I tried convincing him in many ways to let me go but finally I was let off after their Sadhvijis left. It was almost 5.45 am and I was late by more than1 hour. I was behind schedule and I was getting worked up, but then I reminded myself to allow the flow of life to take most appropriate action and I was on Peace pilgrimage. I suddenly felt more relaxed and I continued with my walk.
It was again a temple that came to my help, Shri Nandigram Tirth – a Jain temple where I rested. It was the first time I had some back pain and I needed to take rest. I decided to further reduce the weight of my bag by giving away all the food that was left in my bag. Almost 30 % of the bag was lighter and my back felt better. I also like to thank my friend Jawahar Shah his friend Mona Shah she came from city to Nandigram Tirth and took my bag pack away gave me complete relief to my back for that day.
This evening I had a special host, one of my father’s friends Vinodbhai Shah at Vapi. He & his wife not only made sure that all the arrangements were in place, he made a nice warm meal and took care of my laundry too. I also got hot water bath, it was just what I needed for my back giving big relief. In all, I did not realised where four days had gone. Here my friend Dhiren Shah’s sister Hina came to meet me reminding of yester years lovely days.
Day 5 : Wednesday – April 2nd 2014
I left from their house at 4.30 am the next day morning. Vinodbhai was very kind he came to leave me till highway. Days were becoming very hot; at about 10.30 am I reached at Atul and found that a Jain temple is round corner. I reached to the temple to realize temple is closed, any ways I was allowed to stay in open place around temple. Using sleeping bag I starched myself in the open place and got in fast sleep with lovely breeze blowing around. Today, I had no lunch on getting up I consumed fruits I had and relaxed for some more time and around 4.00 pm left for Tithal. Vapi & Atul were chemical zones, one can smell polluted air this was cost of growth but as I crossed in to Vapi I was in Gujarat with noticeable change in infrastructure.
Today my host for night was Rajesh Aher friend of Paragbhai from Surat staying in Tithal. Jayeshbhai and Nipunbhai even in their absence inspire people around the world to open their hearts and open their homes to strangers around the world – this is pure game of Heart beyond understanding of mind. I am deeply touched by the warmth and belongingness provided to me by Moved by Love group, it literally makes me feel this world is one big & large my own family. I was so much touched by Rajeshbhai and his wife that for unknown person they chose to provide their bedroom and sleep themselves in hall, this is live example of Indian culture and value system – Atithi Devo Bhav. I had great dinner especially today as I had no lunch, after bit of chatting with Rajeshbhai and family, I went to bed by about 9.30 pm.
Day 6: Thursday – April 3rd 2014.
As usual I got up early at about 3.40 am, had my routine and had lovely bath and I left Rajeshbhai and family at 4.30 am. Before leaving in such early hours I was given some fruits and water by his wife. As soon as I left their home I was surprisingly greeted by dogs and one of the dog came from behind and baited on my lower leg, thank god I was wearing a jeans and full sleeve socks so his teeth could not touch my skin – this was live example of universal support. Shiva was with me, I was always taken care. This reminded me my guru’s words “In the infinity of life, where ever I am and whatever I do I am always taken care”.
I was heading to Dungri a very small village about 20 km from Tithal in the district of Billimora, this was construction site of Rajeshbhai Aher and his site care taker Chimanlal was to take care of my morning rest and lunch. Once again Chimanlal and his wife were very kind, their care and love for unknown person was heart touching. They opened one of the garage and got a cot for me to rest, also got a fan and some nimbu juice. After sometime in late noon village food of Rice roti and spicy vegetables and salad was just delicious. I could not consume all the rice roti over lunch but I was made to eat same as evening snacks which I did with my delight. They came across as pretty much living hand to mouth but their hospitality was like five star hotels. I was so much touched by their care that I decided to offer some money but Chimanlal not only refused but was so much emotional I did not pushed.
I left Dungri for Gandevi about 18 km distance at 4.00 pm, on the way meet two young journalists who took some details on my Peace Walk and took couple of my photos. 18 km distance was too much for the evening walk, I was extremely tired, I called and checked with my host Dineshbhai can he pick me up from highway as it was already dark and I was washed out. He promptly obliged and came with his car picked me up that saved me last 4 km, on reaching his raw house I was greeted by his wife and lovely cute daughter. Also a neighbourhood doctor was around, I took her advice on dog bite. I was cleared as dog bite had not touched my skin. I felt relived big way; I took bath and got fresh. Once again I was seeing warmth and care of Indian hospitality. All four of us slept together in main hall, this is possible In India only. All through night I was thinking what a blessing to have so much love from all corners of life in my walk, I could clearly see Shiva guiding my path all the way.
Day 7 : Friday – April 4th 2014
I got up early as usual and get ready to leave by 4.30 am; once again my hosts were so kind that they gave me some fruit and nimbu water for my way. Morning walks were very pleasant and very productive all the way, normally I was able to cover 25 to 27 km in morning 5 hours of walk. I was very fortunate to meet large group of Jain Sadhus and Sadhvijis around Salej, once of the Sadhvijis stopped me and asked about reason of my Peace Walk. She also wanted to know what ways I am aiming for peace. After almost talk for 15 minutes, she guided me to her guru Acharyaji shri Vijay Vallabh Suriji Maharaj who had traveled to all corner of India for Peace. He was very elderly in his age bracket of 90 +, I took his blessings as he came closer to me. Today from Gandevi I had to cover about 24 km to Navsari, here my host was Jayshreeben Desai. This was family reference of Falguni Desai from Moved by love family. Jayshreeben was very kind and caring, she guided me to her house on phone and came on main road to receive me, their banglow was also very nice clean and spacious. I had lovely shower and I was very fresh after 5 hours of walk; Jayshreeben was very kind she offered laundry services too. I had almost all my cloths to be washed, she obliged by starting washing machine specially for my dirty cloths. Though Desai couple was retired & elderly couple they were very health conscious and were fit, after chatting for a while with Mr. Desai we headed to great hot lunch. I closed room and practically went in deep sleep for 2 hours. On inquiring on my next day plans I told that I intend to walk to Dandi they were very kind to show me shorter path by their car and had told me to leave whenever I get up in early morning hours. Jayshreeben was also very kind to organise some energy drink and had left some fruits for my on the way consumption. So given distance, I decided to relax in evening and walk 21 km distance in morning next day. Mr. Desai was cricket buff, in evening I enjoyed India – South Africa 20 20 match on TV and went to sleep by about 10 pm. Again my planning went busted, I took a lot more time than I intended too. I also realized that I needed to give more time at places I stayed so that we could have more discussion about my mission and the healing work we do. Every single day, I had new set of learning and I was simply enjoying this learning and unlearning experiences.
Day 8: Saturday – April 5th 2014
I got up at 4.00 am and got set to leave for Dandi by 4.35 am, I got my water bottle filled and had energy drink, picked fruits and left Dandi for way. I was charged both mentally and physically to go to Dandi. Though narrow, road was very nice hardly with any traffic. All round there was lot of vegetation mainly mango and chikoo trees and number of lovely small bungalows. Most of bungalows were closed; I was told all those bungalows belong to NRI investors. Thus leaving hardly any operative house on the road. I reached sharp at 9.00 am at Dandi bus station to find nobody around. After about 30 minutes I could see some villagers and I asked of any memory of Bapu’s Dandi walk ? I was guided to lovely Gandhi sitting statue, I wanted to take pictures but once again there was nobody around. After about 15 minutes one young man came with his daughter and I requested him to take my picture with Bapu and he obliged. I really felt charged and sitting at same place I had my fruits breakfast feeling that I had breakfast with Bapu. I shared my picture with Bapu statue on what’s up with most of my friends. Here as distance from Dandi to Navsari was again 21 km and as there was no possibility of accommodation at Dandi I requested my next host Rushin Narendrabhai Naik to pick me up in his car. He very willingly obliged, on seeing my picture with Bapu at Dandi my dear friend Shirish Gotecha from Mumbai called informing me my good old college colleague Girish Mehta was staying in Navsari. Girish was so spontenuos that in no time he heard about me come walking from Mumbai he left his shop and came to see me at Narendrabhai’s place. We had great time talking specially as we were meeting almost after 35 years, I was so happy to connect with Girish. He was as live as in olden days, maybe he was livelier and more matured now. As usual after lovely hot lunch, I had very good afternoon sleep. Narendrabhai was very supportive and kind person, he offered me to join him to his Mango and Chikoo farm which I quickly agreed as once again keeping in mind distance to Surat was about 30 km I was to walk next day in morning only. Also I had to slow down to receive young Yash Walavalkar at Surat on Monday morning; son of Neeti Walavalkar barely 18 was coming from Pune to join Peace Walk. I had great time with Narendrabhai on his motorbike going from village to village to their lovely farm, by the time Narendrabhai finished his work I moved around the farm and picked some wonderful picture of nature. I had never seen so many live mangoes on a single tree ever, really enjoyed motorbike ride through villages and farms. On returning home we talked a lot on Peace Walk especially as Narendrabhai is also actively working with Rotary local chapter on many social causes. Ended my day little early once again with lovely homemade hot food prasad made by Narendrabhai’s wife with lot of love & care – sorry I did not recollect her name, she was really annapurna.
Day 9 : Sunday – April 6th 2014
As any day, I got up in early morning hours but I chose to relax as Rushinbhai was to come to pick me at about 4.45 am only. Got ready and while I was waiting for Rushinbhai and I saw Narendrabhai was awake and was reading in early morning hours. I was dropped on NH 8 on the way to Surat; I started walking as usual with lot of energy and zeal. Days were becoming very hot; I started feeling heat of city by about 9.30 am. I still had to go for about 8 km; I had no choice than request Praksahbhai – team member of Paragbhai. It was pleasant relief to get in Paragbhai’s car and greeted with cold water, it was almost 25 km drive in city to reach Paragbhai’s palace. Once again here I was greeted to lovely Jain breakfast by his mother; Paragbhai’s mom was waiting for me while Paragbhai was out what a blessing. I had great breakfast, followed by lovely shower that freshen my body completely. Immediately on return home Paragbhai and I went out to see his school and farm. I was deeply impressed by small small things Paragbhai was personal driving in his organic farm, a lovely farm where lot of daily usage vegetables were grown reminded me of my humble effort in my balcony to grow some vegetables. We had family lunch together with Paragbhai’s parents too joining us, after great lunch I had sleep for 2 hours to get up fully fresh but as I was not to walk today evening as Yash Walavalkar was to join from tomorrow for Peace Pilgrimage. In evening hours we had great time with Paragbhai & Mitabhabhi, also had party dinner with their family friends on eve of her birthday. After some discussions and as guided by Paragbhai I decided that now on, I will go with fullest trust on divine and not use any contact for hospitality on the way. I slept at 10 pm eagerly looking forward to next morning Yash joining for pilgrimage.
Day 10 : Monday – April 7th 2014.
Praksahbhai reached home as planned at 5.30 am, I was ready. Mitabhabhi had left clear instruction for couple of apple and Lime water for me. We left at 5.45 am and we reached city bus station at 6.00 am and waited for Yash’s bus reach, his bus came around 6.30 am. We picked him and headed to Paragbhai’s school to get freshening for Yash. Immediately after freshening, we straight way started walking from about 7.00 am. At about 9.45 am we reached at “Meldi Mataji’s” temple near village Masma, It was a festival time and there was a lot of excitement in the air. We took Mataji’s blessings and we were resting in sideline of temple, at about 12 noon Yash asked what we shall do for our lunch. I offered him apple given by Mitabhabhi but he was seriously looking for lunch. While I too was wondering and somebody appeared asking us how about your lunch, I was completely taken by surprise. This once again gave me glimpse of divine blessings with us and I told that gentlemen Yes we are looking for lunch. He told as to be in temple only and he went in city & bought us two packs of lunch. It was hot, fresh and delicious food not only enough for us as well as for two dogs around in temple and a couple doing some digging work around temple. While we just finished our lunch a local visitor to temple started talking to us on our purpose of walk, he was so much touched that he gave us Rs.500/- for expenses in journey forward. We slept very satisfying post lunch munching how divine grace was with us all the time.
We got up and left for Takarma our stop for night, Yash was facing some trouble with small blisters in his legs but was very bravely he kept walking ignoring pain. We reached at Khodiyar Ma temple at about 6.45 pm, completely exhausted but now had confidence in his blessings that we will be taken care. We were interviewed by Suresh Patel for TV Channel 9 news; this was my second interview on the way. On inquiring that we are looking for night stay we were not only allowed but were welcome to join community dinner – a feast. In cities when we have the best of caterers and best of event managers, yet the food we eat never satisfies us. This meal that was cooked with so much love and served with so much gratitude the food was immensely satisfying. I was a rich man that night. Almost 60 of us shared the joy of eating and praying together. As always Jayeshbhai says food + love = prasad, we could see it live. We had great prasad with Kheer made from milk and jiggery, it was indeed community dinner we were forcibly given more and more prasad. After dinner, we had group discussions on our purpose of walk, after some time I asked them why you are keeping jersey cow as well as Indian cow. I was completely taken aback to hear their knowledge on quality difference between Indian and Jersey cow’s milk, I was told that we use Indian cow milk for our home and children while milk of jersey cow was for sale. What a day ? I could see live grace shadowing with us all the time. I was pleasantly surprised to note that in spite of 1st room occupied by the host couple with their children main door as well as our room doors were kept open – what trust in nature / divinity? Hope it was very satisfying day for Yash, I too was delighted with the decision we made to completely live on divine grace.
Day 11 : Tuesday – April 8th 2014.
We got up at 4.00 am and as we finished our morning routine, I was surprise to see our host was also awake. Host lay offered us fresh milk of Indian cow; we accepted and consumed it with grace. We started our walk with deep gratitude to divine and our host, our next target was to reach Ryma once again a Devi temple. Almost after 5 hours of walk covering about 22 km we reached Khodiyar mata temple, this was a small temple with almost no visitors so we relaxed in temple only. Now we were confident so I called pujari and asked can we have lunch, he gracefully said yes. Just in an hour we had lovely village lunch in the temple only, we had great time. We were told that on Dandi highway (National Heritage 228) Sajod is just 15 km, so we started little early at 3.30 pm all was well up to about 10 km. Somehow we lost our route suddenly to realise that we are yet to cover 15 km at 5.30 pm, so we decided to request a truck driver for ride. At very 1st request, we were taken in truck by the driver as he was going towards Sajod only. Poor truck driver was very kind to drop us right near Sajod village; he just blessed our journey without taking any money. We were hunting for a Shiva main temple as that village has many Shiva temples, we came across a Digamber Jain temple on inquiry for night stay we were told to wait for little while as caretaker had to take permission from the trustee. We were given a nice room on 1st floor of Dharamshala, we had to go down on ground floor for our bath and toilet. We had great refreshing bath, we also washed some of our cloths. Now we approached caretaker once again for our dinner, while we were talking with him his wife heard us and offered us food already been cooked for their own consumption stating when pilgrims come to us it’s our good fortune. I was really touched, we set in their house only and had early dinner very gracefully given to us by father and son duo while their mummy cooked hot stuff for us. We over eat delicious food; this food too was deeply graced by love of our host. As we went early to bed all our over eaten food’s blood was sucked by mosquitos, practically we had no sleep. Any ways our body had no sleep but our hearts were ready for walk further.
Day 12: Wednesday – April 9th 2014.
As part of our normal routine we were ready to leave at 4.30 am, care taker Bhai got up and opened doors of temple for us as we left place with deep gratitude. As discussed over earlier night my friend Jawahar Shah had talk with his childhood neighbour friend Nikitaben Desai in Bharuch to be our next host. We walked through Ankleshwar but it was very early morning so we did not faced chemical zone impact, also we took bypass from zone heading straight to head to Bharuch. Yash was facing challenge with his legs and was looking bit tired. As he changed on to thick socks and started walking I could see some comfort on his face. As we started from there one person looked like a labor shouted for us, he came closer and gave us Rs. 50 for our road expenses – divine grave was with us all times. As usual roads were very broad and it was fun walking in early morning hours. As we bowed to mother Narmada River and as we came near Golden Bridge that connects Ankleshwar to Bharuch city, suddenly road got converted to very narrow one line each for vehicles to come and go. It was really narrow bridge and we had to talk 1.75 km on it, it was an experience of life time we really had to hold ourselves very carefully. Any which ways after walking almost for 30 minutes in such tight situation we crossed to bridge to find Nikitaben and Rohitbhai our host who had come to receive us. Such an wonderful couple very loving and caring, as Jawahar had lined our stay they assumed we too were Jain and were on some religious pilgrimage. Immediately after receiving us they checked with us whether we like to visit a Jain temple ? I said we are very open to go to any temple but it’s not a must for us, one of their friend was gracious builder of a Jain temple in Bharuch. Immediately on reaching their very spacious neat and clean banglow, we were given room of their son who had moved to Singapore. We had nice bath and bit of rest; at 12 noon we were called for lunch once again it was Mataji’s prasad being the last day of Navratri festival. We had great lunch and we went to sleep in lovely cool air conditioned room, by now we had decided to stay overnight to support Yash tiring feet. As Yash slept recovering his fatigue, I chose to get my hair cut and pick up some dry fruit and munching snacks.
We had great evening with Rohitbhai and Nikitaben saw their sons weeding album and also had hot lovely dinner. We went on to their terrace – a lovely cricket ground for their grandson who stays in Baroda. Our host couple was very kind and mixing, once again we had very good sleep in air-conditioned cool room free from mosquitos.
Day 13 : Thursday - April 10th 2014.
After wonderful refreshing sleep we got up at 4.00 am and were ready to leave, but Nikitaben and Rohitbhai were very kind to come and drop us on highway – it was very kind gesture in such early morning hours. I was burdened by additional stuff I bought yesterday some dry fruits and snacks which I was not able to carry on already troubled shoulders, while carrying my cloths in my bag pack was challenge. My young co-traveler Yash was very kind, he picked up all eatables and we headed back on Dandi road towards Jambusar – about 60 km from Baroda. I was excited, we had almost covered 75 % of our total distance and tomorrow Sheetalbhai was to join us. We reached to a small village, like Bharuch which has 50 % each Hindu and Muslim population here too scene was same. The village was strongly dominated by Muslims but surprisingly found again Khodiyar Maa temple. Some Pooja was being performed with multiple bramhins chanting Sanskrit slokas, we were guided in adjacent hall on informing we were pilgrims immediately we were given prasad and were given bed to sleep and relax. Care taker of temple was kind person, he organised lunch for us. He additionally ordered mango juice; lovely cold mango juice on very hot afternoon was very satisfying. Once again after lunch we slept for an hour and decided to head to Jambusar little early at 3.30 pm. It was very hot afternoon, 42.60 degree temperature was killing. Any ways walk had to go on to our destination of Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram which was now pretty close, surprisingly this starch of road was very narrow it was becoming tough walking as one side traffic of big trucks and other side vegetation with lot of throne was hitting us. I got some scratches on my hand and forearm, so on safety grounds we decided to once again request for truck ride. As usual on 1st request only we got in to a truck to get dropped at entrance of Jambusar, once again truck driver was very kind he just dropped us and drove away. We walked through once again Muslims majority village asking at many places to reach to Jain Dharamshala. On reaching, we were welcomed and were given a room. We were also offered dinner at trustees place. Today’s lunch was bit too heavy so we opted out from dinner and just had nimbu juice. Trustee Sudhir Shah was very kind person, he guided us to Vadu next morning a very small village but had small Jain temple too. So happily we decided to go to bed but we were welcomed by mosquitos, unfortunately today we were empty stomach. Somehow we saw night away.
Day 14 : Friday – April 11th 2014.
Bitten by large number of mosquitos we left Jambusar early at 3.30 am for Vadu, somehow we made our way from earlier evening’s highly crowded market place to completely empty market to highway. In early morning hours at 4.00 am roads were getting cleaned, part of market was fully cleaned and part was yet to get cleaned. As we made our way on highway our body was aching with no sleep and itching at various places we took many breaks to cover 22 km to Vadu, we were tired by about 18 km and with sun becoming more strong around 9.30 am once again we decided to take support from truck driver which was available to us as soon as we asked for. Driver was from UP and very religious minded, he too was deeply interested in politics. He was also very open on our peace views and was very happy with our initiative. In no time we were at Vadu highway stop, he was delighted to talk with us and support our case. We got down from truck and walked our way to Jain Temple; we were greeted by elderly couple and were guided to a room with two beds. Once again we were protected from hot sun and had good time to relax here; we were called for lunch at about 12.30 pm had great hot homemade food. We could not sleep now in excitement of Sheetalbhai joining us shortly, we had just got up without good rest. We left little early for Vadu highway junction from where Sheetalbhai was to join us for Peace Pilgrimage. At highway point as we were waiting for Sheetalbhai we opted to drink fresh sugarcane juice we had lovely one glass of juice as we were still waiting we had second glass and we show Sheetalbhai. Sheetal Sanghvi is again my fellow colleague at “Moved by love” group. Sheetal has an amazing place called “Urban Ashram” in Pune where he and his lovely wife Khushmita – person who spread “Khushi – Happiness” to the world - conducts some Yoga and laughter therapy classes. But more than the yoga classes, it is a hub of community get together and a space to allow the experiments of love and generosity. Sheetalbhai being so young and so focused in serving humanity is inspiring to me in many ways. I felt privileged to have his company in this pilgrimage. As he joined us he was also given glass of sugarcane juice, he was forced with one more glass which he took as vendor was giving with such love we could not refuse. Sugarcane juice vendor was so kind and he felt not charging us for juice was his way of supporting Peace, we were touched by his kind gesture also such was Sheetalbhai’s energy joining us.
We started our walk towards Devpura on Dandi highway; it was fun for three of us walking back to back on Dandi marg. At a point we realised we were on wrong road our intuition stopped us, just as we stopped a car came from behind on asking for road direction to Devpura we were told to walk a bit to an Hanuman temple and ask for direction. Yes, we had missed the turn but there was alternative road to get connect back on road to Devpura. We were told to look for a small temple on hills about a km from there. Thanking god for his support we continued our walk, it was fairly pleasant evening and it was around 6.00 pm we saw a house it was smelling freshly colored with mud and cow dung. Somehow I was attracted to the house, I checked with Sheetalbhai shall we approach them with request for night stay? Once he agreed for stay request, we moved closer to house and checked with children playing around is there anybody at home? we were responded by a lady’s voice from behind u, I turned to her with namaste and a request for night stay, to my surprise she spontaneously agreed and invited us to come up to house which on was 3 / 4 steps height. Energy of the house was amazing; we were given 3 cots to seat. It was amazing feeling of lovely breeze under Mulberry free surrounded by various medicine trees like Neem, Drumstick, and Papaya was just wonderful. In short while her husband, mother-in-low and father-in-low came from farm, they too greeted us and tea was ready for us. This followed by fresh milk for me as I did not take tea. While we finished with tea and milk, we were invited to see TV serial – Jai Hanuman. This was house of village but with some modern facility. By the time serial was done our dinner was ready, what a dinner big bajri rotla, chilly & baingan bhaji, Kadhi and khichdi – A five star village dinner. I was deeply touched with hospitality and love - once again a big reminder of Atithi Devo Bhav in action. Finally we slept under million stars on luxurious cot; I had sound sleep in no time I went to bed.
Day 15: Saturday – April 12th 2014.
I got up little early at 3.30 am, went to pick up torch which was being charged. Our host was alert; he fetched it for me from charger. We had to go in open for nature’s call in morning reminded me of Ishwar dada and Jayeshbhai. As soon as all of us finished with our morning routine we were ready to leave, once again I was touched of gesture of our host to see us till road with his torch. This is our village culture and hospitality, what a great way to start day. We kept on walking back to back of each other in early morning darkness guided by torch light nonstop almost for 2 ½ hours took small of break for 10 minutes and were once again on the road. As morning sun was spreading its light we passed through many small villages where cattle milking was key activity on one side and on other side children were ready to go to school. Seeing cattle being milked Sheetalbhai started getting urge for morning tea, there were no shops around or some few shops around had not opened, you know once you have urge for tea your mind it will not allow you to move forward. We chatted with many young boys waiting for buses / rick for school and asked for tea stall, we were told walk for about 6 km for a tea stall. But divine has already listened to our urge, we approached a wafer & dry snacks stall and checked with him for tea. Firstly he pointed us to a closed tea stall but on realizing we are pilgrimages as well he getting call from divine he went in his backyard home and got us hot tea made by his wife we were completely surprised but now we had tested HIS presence around us all the times. On me refusing tea, I was literally forced to have coffee which I accepted due to our host love.
On moving forward we chose to take small village road leaving behind state highway to Borsad, almost all villagers passing by will greet us with loud smile Jai Mataji. It was just fun, all the fun and joy lead us to a Mataji temple to be greeted by pujari with lot of love. He guided us to Sun Temple just at a distance of 3 / 4 km where we will get facility to stay, bath and also get food. Today HE was very kind but Mr. Google was not, after walking for about 3 km he stated 6.5 km distance to Sun temple put us down. We took auto to realise it was just about couple of km but HE was keenly waiting for us. We went in the temple offered our love and bow to Sun god and as we were stepping out of temple without our request – probably as per HIS instruction, a man approached us asking do you need place to rest and need food ? I was completely taken by surprise but by now nothing was surprise, HE kept on reminding of HIS presence with us now and then. We were granted a lovely room, Yash crashed but Sheetalbhai and I preferred to take bath & get fresh. We also washed our cloths and put on terrace for drying. As we crashed in bed, Yash had his bath. Now we were hungry at about 12.30 noon a bell rang announcing lunch was ready. We joined kitchen along with many pilgrims and number of Daridranarayans for prasad, it was simple but was made with lot of love. Somehow our prasad consumption was disrupted by beating up to two young Daridranarayans for unknown reasons. I finished my prasad and walked back to our room with heavy heart but got in deep sleep in no time. On getting up and fetching cloths from terrace only I realise why HE wanted us to reach Sun temple Dharamshala early as I noted large groups of people sleeping in lobby.
Finally we left at 4.00 pm for Anand where we were to stay at night, Deepak Upadhayay – my school teacher’s son and my classmate; I was to meet almost after gap of 40 years. We left our school in 1974, I was really excited. We passed through many lovely row houses & banglow on both sides of road which was dream in city like Mumbai. Gujarat roads were not only good but also had number of small / large temples on side of roads. As evening was approaching I saw many cattle going back to their homes after days grazing, I was delighted to see large number of Indian cows in the village. I could see Sheetalbhai was tired so we stopped at Sugarcane juice vendor to energize us, had two rounds of juices but Sheetalbhai’s legs had given up for the day. So once again we were forced to take auto to Deepak’s house, once again to realise to my pleasure that his house was in outside of Anand city in Vallabh Vidya Vihar that was just 18 km from Nadiad. We were greeted by Deepak’s family and were really taken care, we had bath and got fully fresh. All three of his sons were doing very well, I was impressed with them. Especially with Jackie as he has some deeper urge to change our education system and is continuing with third generation in parting education / teaching like his grandfather Jethalal. After lot of talk recollecting childhood, we went to bed.
Day 16: Sunday – April 13th 2014.
I got up and 4.00 am and made Sheetalbhai also get up but his thighs were paining he was still not back to normal. I offered him to stay back and relax till late morning and join us by auto or bus at Sant Ashram, Nadiad at Mukeshbhai’s place. By auto, so finally Yash and I left for walk. I forgot my torch at Deepak’s place while it was charging; anyways road was not with heavy traffic and as very soon full moon night was approaching so it was naturally bright. We passed Swaminarayan temple at Vadtal and reached on to NH 8 for some distance same is Dandi Marg (NH 228 – National Heritage Highway 228), we rested a bit and once again started for Nadiad. As per our discussions with Mukeshbhai we were to reach his place in evening but as we stayed in Vallabh Vidya Nagar in place of Anand, we saved lot of time and we were at Sant Ashram Nadiad at 10.00 am. Sant Ashram is place of high energy, the place late Dongreji Maharaj used to stay and Gandhiji too had stayed one night on the way to Dandi. I was so delighted to see Mukeshbhai after Gandhi 3.0 retreat in Sugadh, we had great time together. After Sant Ashram tour, we rested till late noon till the time Sheetalbhai joined us. He looked fresh, we than had lunch prasad in ashram. Once again we slept after lunch to be ready for our onwards march to Ahmedabad, from here Mukeshbhai advised us to drop Dandi Marg as it is same as NH 8 and is being expanded. He guided us to road that leads us to Mehamdabad; we energetically walked on the road as we are already in Ahmedabad district.
At about 6.15 pm we were thinking of rest and we were blessed to see board of Jain temple, we were delighted to go inside to Dharamshala to find some large group of Sadhivijis was on the way. We were guided in the village to Shiva temple, in my heart I was delighted and we made our way to Shiva’s house. Here too we reached asking various people to find that we can relax but on stay they will tell as when pujari comes back to temple. In any case, I was told by Shiva that we are welcome to stay in his house. We washed our legs and as we were relaxing Pujari – Kalidasbhai came in & no time he agreed for us to stay for night in temple. Now it was becoming dark and it was time for evening arti, I was so delighted to note young girl daughter of pujari of about 10 years had prepared arti and pujari’s young son of about 8 had performed arti. This was live example of full family was involved in temple seva and were enjoying it fully. After arti, we stepped out for a nimbu juice. On returning back to temple there were evening bhajans and chanting of Hanuman Chalisa followed once again by arti. After all these immediately we went for dinner, it was once again prasad of Shiva made with lot of love and was given to us forcefully with love and care. Just as we finished our dinner, it followed nice cotton ground spread and smooth cotton spread to cover body. So we slept besides Shiva under millions stars, slept very next to family of pujari Kalidas and his children, indeed it was a different night.
Day 17: Monday – April 14th 2014.
I got up after dream nigh sleep and got Sheetalbhai awake, I had lovely bath and was ready followed by both our friends. Wife of Kalidas was very kind, she made tea in so early hours and wishes us bye with a request to come back if we are in her area and so by Kalidas. It was very homely environment and parting was emotional. As we stepped out of temple we passed sleeping villagers and barking dogs to same Jain Dharamshala where we took blessings of Sadhivijis and moved on. Today too we had no torch but it was just day before full moon night and sky was bright with torch of moon. We comfortably we walked and took our 1st break after 2 ½ hours just the time sun was taking over from moon; we took turn on Ahmedabad road. We meet number of pilgrims to Dakore greeting and chanting Jai Ranchod, it was delightful was to start the day. We passed new upcoming Ganesh temple on hills which was to be inaugurated in coming week, we could see glimpse of giant temple.
While it was 8.30 am got call from my friend Vinod Bhavsar requesting for opportunity to serve as today was a holiday for he and his wife. Vinod was my college colleague, in practical term I was talking with him after gap of 36 years. On inquiring we were told that today was Babasahab Ambekar Jayanti had bank holiday. He offered us lunch to be served where ever we take our stop; we agreed and continued with our walk.
As we approached Ahmedabad city day was becoming very hot, it was just 9.15 am and we decided to stop at a Hanumanji’s temple. We entered temple and bowed to Hanumanji and checked old pujari can we rest in temple for a while. Immediately he agreed and greeted us with tea, also offered us lunch but we informed that lunch is being brought by our friend from city thus we just like to rest. On hearing same he invited to come in his house and gave us three beds to rest while he was cooking for self and two workers who were getting temple is best shape for Hanuman Jayanti celebrations tomorrow. Soon time slept and it was 11 am, Vinod called to inform that he will be at temple by 12 noon. I was highly impressed with preparations to serve us lunch, it was his wife’s sheer love and care touched me. We had most lovely meal followed by soothing cold butter milk; it was very satisfying to connect with Vinod after very long gap 36 years. Testing his love and care, we requested him if it is OK for them we could join him now and go to his residence in his car and rest, in the evening we can take auto and come back to complete our Peace Walk to Ahmedabad. He spontaneously agreed and we all boarded his car, on the way he narrated his life story specially the way they were miraculously survived Bhuj earth quake which also created big impact in Ahmedabad too. He and his family walk out of remains of their collapsed building, even today as he narrates same story he shivers. He is deeply touched by grace of divine; today he is follower of Swaminarayan path. He continues to go ups and downs in health after above incident. With both his daughters married, two of them stay alone in nice spacious row house in Godsar, Ahmedabad.
We reached home and had quick shower, he was so kind immediately he offered us for laundry. All our cloths had to be washed, he specially started washing machine for us. In hot afternoon we put on air-condition and slept, on getting up we decided to move back to the point to complete our walk by auto but he insisted to drop us at point by his car. We walked back to his house remembering and talking of his talk with us; very loving and caring couple had seen lot of challenges of life together. We reached back to his home by about 7.30 pm; saw some TV program on day of holiday.
We were already in Ahmedabad suburb, Sabarmati Ashram was just 15 km from here. At night I had talk with Jayeshbhai and Madhubhai sharing my plan of entering to Gandhi Ashram in evening hours once Bhumi and Vijaibhai reach Ahmedabad by train at 2.00 pm. Once again eagerness of reaching Sabarmati Ashram tomorrow was exiting my mind and body; finally we slept in cool air-conditioned room.
Day 18: Tuesday – April 15th 2014.
Today was the day – a dream was coming true, I got up as usual at 4.00 am but chose to relax for some time. As we had hardly 15 km to go, both Vinodbhai and his wife too got up and gave my friends lovely homemade tea. I was noticing change in energy of Vinodbhai, he seemed exited and his walk had different energy. He offered to join us till some time but actually he was leading us in walk, as we passed through streets of Ahmedabad city. As usual we were blessed by Jain Sadhu and Sadhvijis on the way as we were bowed respecting them. Very soon we came across Kankaria Lake; I could not believe my eyes entire surroundings were completely transformed. What a transformation, almost in line with any international lake park. I was delighted to see large number of morning walkers had great time over bank of Kankaria Lake. We too had great time and as we continued our walk on banks of lake, Vinod was walking with us with matching energy. Today he was just unstoppable; finally I had to tell him to go back. He directed us towards Elis Bridge and left us, we crossed the bridge. While crossing bridge I noticed nice pavement on the banks of Sabarmati I was deeply attracted, we checked with some people of path and went on banks of Sabarmati to be completely surprised to the amazing transformation of entire place. Work was still on but whatever that was ready is of International standard, we walked almost for 5 km to join back on local roads. It was now early morning and we were moving on ashram road, on noticing a Jain temple Sheetalbhai wanted to visit temple. I too wanted but somehow to give company to Yash I stayed back. I had to offer my big gratitude to all Jain temple we were housed while on the pilgrimage.
On returning back, we reached Madhubhai’s house right opposite Gandhi ashram. We were greeted with all the love by Meghna and Madhubhai in most traditional Indian way, as soon as we entered their house a large bowl was brought and I was told to keep my legs in it. Meghna poured water and Madhubhai washed my legs, I was highly embarrassed and tears were rolling my cheeks. I was so delighted that little Reva was fully participating in this process being told that same was part of their tradition practiced by Madhubhai’s grandmother and he too is just continuing same. In all, it was very emotional and touching to my heart. We had lovely hot Upma for breakfast, very fulfilling. But Icing on cake was Jayeshbhai visited Madhubhai’s house, for me both of them were real inspiration that made me trust universe and move out of my house completely surrendering to the universal energy.
I was surprisingly happy to see Lahar around; we had lunch together and talked a lot on our experiences of walk. I was so delighted that Bhumi and Vijai joined us at Madhubhai’s place; it was really my pleasure to see them after 19 days. Udaybhai our famous Ahmedabad rikshawala has brought from railway station, a very warm person. While we rested Yash, Bhumi and Vijai went to Safai Vidyalay to meet Jayeshbhai. I understand they had great time with him – Jayeshbhai is like live university of love and wisdom.
Vinodbhai joined us with my bag at Safai Vidyalay in the evening; he too joined us in Jayeshbhai’s office. As day was becoming dark it was decided to go to Seva Café – three of us were to serve at Seva Cafe and three of us were to just eat – to be served. Yash, Bhumi and Vijai served with lot of enthusiasm as matter of fact Vijai served us delicious food. Today too Vinodbhai chose to be our host at Seva Café and paid for dinner. We drove back to Madhubhai’s house and crashed.
Still I was in disbelief that I completed 19 days Peace Walk covering 600 + km, any ways it was truth same was just made possible with HIS presence with me all the time.
Day 19: Wednesday – April 16th 2014.
We got up as usual early at 4.00 am but had to wait for all to be ready and assembled, all of us walked and assembled at Safai Vidyalay offered our prayer and then guided by Jayeshbhai we went in Gandhi Ashram once again to offer prayer in Ashram at the place Bapu used to have his daily prayer. For me it was very unusual feeling bit mixed feeling that my pilgrimage is done and I will be back to my routine. Blessed with Bapu’s energy, we 8 of us headed to World Peace Pole at ESI, Sugadh at about 6.20 am. It was just a distance of 11 km, we joyfully passed path chatting and talking on our life experiences. Like Jayeshbhai, experiences of Kishanbhai too are very rich. Bhumi chose to walk in silence and barefooted, it was silence that gave her energy to walk 11 km. Bhumi, I thank you to be with me to kick off as well as to close this Peace Pilgrimage. Also Vijai too was my partner at both end.
Once again at Sugadh we were greeted by traditional welcome by Shaileshbhai, Naveenbahi and team. I was too egger to take blessings of World Peace Pole, bowing and hugging pole was an experience which I am not able to describe. We took some pictures for memory with World Peace Pole and with Bapu, in short my current Peace Pilgrimage ended here at World Peace Pole in Sugadh.
Had a lovely breakfast at Sugad and went to Vishwakarma Engineering College for inaugural lecture to kick off NCC service. I was made to share my life experience and also current Peace Pilgrimage experience. I was not ready but I did an attempt to share my experiences of life with young students. This followed by Awakin Circle at Madhusudanbhai’s house in the evening, here too I shared my experience of Peace Pilgrimage. It was a wonderful round of sharing and that concluded my 19 days Peace Pilgrimage.
Peace Pilgrimage over 19 days, covering across two states encompassing 600 + Kilo Meters without any personal money – this was my experiment with my inner self to see how universal blessings was with me to support my cause. We completely relied on universe to support us for our food, water & stay; we also did not use any hotel service for food. Also had not used any bottled water and finally did not use any hotel for overnight stay.
In the last 19 days, I was amazed to be helped by the most unexpected people I met on the way. These cash was given to me WITHOUT asking, by my supporters of PEACE for expenses on the way:
My close colleague friend Mahesh Shah is very caring person, he was kind to organise tickets for our return journey back to Mumbai that would have coasted him about Rs. 3,000/- this service was done by him as his support to our mission of PEACE.
- A random housewife gave me Rs 1,000/-
A Sadhu gave me Rs 500/-
A Businessman gave me Rs 500/-
A Farmer gave me Rs 100/-
A Laborer gave me Rs 50/-
A Shopkeeper gave me Rs 25/-
What I earned during this period is simply priceless. One key thing I take back from this trip is that the universe is immensely kind and waiting to GIVE you all the time its wonderful blessings, if you believe in it.
I am deeply grateful to Jayeshbhai, Madhubhai and Paragbhai who really encouraged me to trust universe and start my journey. This was also my inner journey from “Mind” to “Heart”, I too went through my struggle. I am also grateful to my parents who fully supported my work and took care of my young angles back at home, I am grateful to them too – my daughters who fully supported and encouraged me for Peace Walk. I am deeply grateful to Vijai Yadav – my manager, one of my biggest supporters. I too grateful to “Moved by Love” family, various friends supported & encouraged me at various times. I am also I am also grateful to all my individual hosts and all the temples I stayed / rested / eat on the way; I used Jain temples the most and also used Devi Mata, Shiva & Surya temples on my path.
I am also deeply grateful to Yash and his mom Neeti Walavalkar to have trust in me and last but not the least Sheetal Sanghvi to have given precious days walking with me. In all I had most amazing days of my Peace Pilgrimage.
Finally above Peace Pilgrimage to World Peace Pole at ESI, Sugadh and Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram, Ahmedabad was to take blessings of Bapu – as M K Gandhi is popularly known as the pujari of Peace, after my Pune walk taking blessing of my Guru and my inspiration – Raj Mali. This walk was also part of my preparation for forthcoming “Peace Pilgrimage to Pakistan” from 2nd Oct 2014. I also propose to walk from Mumbai to Shirdi via Mehrabad from Aug 15th seeking blessings of Meher Baba and Sai Baba. I invite and encourage all supporters of PEACE and my friends to spread word around and join for any walk for any part that suits your physic and time. I welcome any form of support; we are in process of converting & registering “World School of Happiness” to a formal NGO.
I was amazed to see that the smallest of small village in Gujarat had Wi-Fi connectivity, light and water. I never had issues with these three things wherever I went, however it was not so in Maharashtra. Even Ahmedabad city infrastructure has undergone sea change noticeable banks of Sabarmati and Kankaria Lake. I cannot help but admire the infrastructure of the state and I am highly touched by hospitality of the people.
On personal front, I am live example how inner focus – path of inner transformation, can bring about change in my life. Most of us are driven by our minds all the time, very few have moved over to heart. Moved by Love friends are some of them. In the current and 2nd innings of my life after popping up pills over 10 years for Diabetics, Obesity and Hypertension today I am fully free from all forms of medicines over last 3 ½ years. I am so grateful delighted that I could walk most days for 40 / 45 km per day, not for one day but day after day for 19 days. Also I did NOT use any bottled water on the way and I had food that was offered by my hosts, I did not had food in any hotels over all 19 days. All above reconfirms, once your MIND is healed, your body also gets healed; our body just manifests state of our mind all the times. I feel regular use of “Solar Water – Amrut” over last 4 years, being vegan on food front and changed life style aided with regular meditation & yoga has lead me on the physical strength. In the current phase of my life journey, I also attracted some amazing people in my life that not only inspired me but has now become most integral part of my life. I called them as designers of my life; here is a personal gratitude to all the DESIGNERS of my LIFE:-
To stay connected, we have setup a World Peace Through Pilgrimage FaceBook page that you can follow.