The Banks of the Ganges

By: Carlyle Cunningham

Yesterday, we travelled by bus through the Himalayas, making it to Uttarkashi and closer and closer to Agora. I don’t know how else to say it, but the beauty of this place brings tears to my eyes. On the six hour bus ride from Mussoorie to Uttarkashi, I had plenty of time to contemplate my place in this world, and I have come to one conclusion: I am extremely small compared to this massive place.

I also had the chance to go with the group who is staying an extra week to a small village upriver where they took water quality tests. After eating lunch and exploring Uttarkahsi for a bit, we once again hopped in the car and headed for a town called Harsil, at the headwaters of the Ganges. This was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life. The views we set our eyes on here seemed to be straight out of a National Geographic magazine. Mountains that stood at over 20000 feet in the air were covered in the whitest snow I’d ever seen. They seemed to be never ending. The evergreen trees were greener than the greenest grass and about as tall as 30 of me stacked atop one another. The glacial water of the mother Ganges sounded as if 100 trains rushed at you all at once, and the color was the essence of aquamarine. The beauty of this place was so other worldly that photos cannot even describe it.

As I sat at the holy rivers edge,

Looking up at the tallest mountains I had ever seen, I felt so small. but in the best way possible. It’s the feeling when you finally realize you are not the only person in the world, that there is so much more out there than just you and your everyday problems. Listening to the rushing sound of the river, I was overcome with an overwhelming feeling of peace and relief. as we are sitting in chapel back at school, listening to Father Scott’s sermon, there are men on the other side of the world sitting in a chai stall looking at the Himalayas. There is so much more going on in the world than we experience everyday. It’s true that when you get a C on a paper you worked really hard on, or when you get a flat tire, or when anything not desirable happens, it hurts and it’s definitely annoying. But it’s so important to put those everyday things into perspective. These are all things we are able to get through and past. We must live life to the fullest and enjoy it for what it is, not what it could be.

5 thoughts on “The Banks of the Ganges

  1. It sounds like everyone on this trip is living life to the fullest. I wonder how the Rappahannock, with headwaters in West Virginia, compares to the Mother Ganges with glacial headwaters in the Himalayas. The scenery sounds spectacular.

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  2. Carlyle – Totally awesome post! You did an excellent job of describing the exceptionally beautiful place where you were and how you were feeling and thinking while you were there. I’m so glad you were part of that “extra” experience – one that you will ALWAYS remember.

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  3. Great post, Carly. “The beauty of this place was so other worldly that photos cannot even describe it.” And yet, your words, your descriptive images & sounds (rushing trains, 30 Carlys stacked atop each other, essence of aquamarine, etc.) really help us see it. I may be biased, but I think words can be far more effective than photos at conjuring a scene and helping a reader to feel something. Your post really did that for me. I also identify with the feeling of sitting here on this side of the world and knowing about people–at the same time–sitting outside a chai stall, looking at the mountains. It is like a line from our hearts to the lives and experience of others. So powerful. Thanks for bringing us there through words.

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  4. Beautifully done. I was looking yesterday at National Geographic’s new feature on India online, which is of course full of spectacular photos. But the real 3D experience of the scale of self to that country is mind blowing as you so well describe. Knowing that alone we are specks but in community we have agency and meaning is wise.

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