A close Vivekananda Kendra friend and myself planned a visit to Shyamlatal and Mayavati in the month of March, 2008. I prefer generally to make plans for every bit of our journey and my friend is just the opposite. He prefers not to plan for anything. However in the days of advance bookings, we had to book before hand our tickets and guest houses.
As per our scheduled program, we left Delhi for Bareilly by Bareilly intercity Express on 8th March, 2008. There are direct buses from Delhi to Pithoragarh
/ Munsyari via Tanakpur, Lohaghat.. From Bareilly we took a bus upto Sukhidung via Tanakpur. At Sukhidung we alighted and trekked 5 Km. upto Shyamlatal reaching there at 4 p.m. The walk through the natural surrounding was itself an enjoyable one. While the cool breeze was soothing our ruffled nerves, the mountain terrain kept our eyes delighted.
On reaching Vivekananda Ashram, we saluted the Senior Swamijis and we were provided with accommodation immediately. One very smiling Swami ji informed us that the tea will be served at 4.30 p.m. on consideration. We first went to our room and had a good bath in cold water while the temperature was around 20 degree. By 4.30 p.m. we were at the Dinning hall and fresh cup of tea was served with biscuits. This refreshed us considerably.
What attracted our attention was the blooming flower garden. It had many rare species of flowers with unique colors. The fragrance and the colors of flowers made the place heavenly. We could see the lake below, ’Shyamlatal’. Thus the name of the place also became ‘Shyamlatal. The water was muddy although it was shinning by the sun’s rays. We joined with the Swamijis for the evening prayer. The photograph of Sri Ramakrishna, Ma Sarada and Swami Vivekananda were placed on a pedestal and properly decorated with flowers and garlands while burning of incense sticks kept the hall fragrant.
After the prayer we had still half an hour before dinner so we went into the open and looked at the sky. It was full of stars and a crescent moon. The soft cold breeze that was blowing at that time was enjoyable indeed. As the bell tolled, we walked towards the dinning hall.
Next day morning we woke up with the chirping of the birds. The breeze that passed through our room swept in the sweet fragrance of flowers that were in full bloom around the place. We finished our morning call and had good bath in cold water. After breakfast we took a walk and one of the Swamijis’ took us up at a point from where we could see the Nepal border. Swami ji also showed us the ‘Banful point’, the nearest highest point.
Looking at the surrounding high towering mountains with green cover, we stood in silence. This silence touches your very core and you lose count of time and sense of your own existence. Only audible sound was the chirping of the birds and the rustling of leaves. Mind naturally becomes quiet while the soft breeze soothes your body. You become one with the nature.
After about an hour we went back to our room and rested a while before the lunch. As the bell rang, we locked our room and headed for the dinning hall. The food that was served item after item, with care and love, was the most delicious one. We kept on savoring each item and wondered how such simple food could be so tasty.
After a good rest, it was time for tea at 4 p.m. Surprisingly, they provided us with a good number of biscuits with tea. We fully justified our tea time. It gave us enough energy to trek to ‘Banful point’ This location is a highest point at Shyamlatal. The trekking route is through thick vegetation and rugged ridge. We could enjoy seeing the Rhododendron flowers in full bloom. The forest is full of this flower tree. Finally, we could reach the top and looked around to see the wonderful sight of the setting sun and the play of the clouds. We came down slowly enjoying the breeze, the flowers and the stillness of the forest.
After the prayer was over, we took a walk along the garden and enjoyed the night sky and the fragrance of flowers. The whole atmosphere was fragrant and the sky full of starts and the moon. As the bell for dinner rang, we slowly walked to the dinning hall.
Mainly, this Ashram is meant for Spiritual Sadhana for the inmates. People those who have inclination for Sadhana are only given accommodation and their number is naturally very low.
In the morning (March 11, 2008) we packed our rucksacks and went for breakfast. We were scheduled to go to Mayavati today. After finishing our heavy breakfast, we gave a token donation to a swami ji and offered our salutation and left for Mayavati. We once again trekked all the way to Sukhidung and then took a bus for Lohaghat.
Direction to reach Shyamlatal : Reach Tanakpur either from Bareilly or Pilibhit by train or bus. From Tanakpur you can hire a jeep if you are in a group up to shamlatal via Sukhidung. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Tanakpur to Sukhidung and from the bus stop you hire any passing jeep or car to reach Vivekananda Ashram at Shyamlatal. Alternatively, you could trek the distance of 5 kms. if you do not have much weight to carry and if you enjoy nature walk.