“The Yamuna River is like a blue lotus flower garland, a sapphire necklace, or a blue sash worn by the goddess of Vrindavana. They who bathe in her waters transform into pure devotees carrying Lord Krsna in their hearts.” (Vraja-riti-cintamani – Srila Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur)
Special report from Ravi Monga and Mohini Priya d.d. (Save Yamuna):
A dip in the River Yamuna found in Braj-Vrindavan today does not bring about a true sense of fulfillment. This should not be surprising as there is not a drop of original River Yamuna on the river bed in Vrindavan. (www.saveyamuna.org)
In order to document the current sad reality of River Yamuna Ji and a desire to experience her true divine beauty, an international delegation of ISKCON devotees from various countries (Germany, Croatia, Switzerland, USA, Fiji and India) along with devotees from the Vallabhkul (Pushtimarg) and Maan Mandir, Barsana, river experts, engineers and various representatives of national and international NGOs that are constantly working towards saving the holy river, undertook a journey to its source, Sri Yamunotri, the place where she emerges from the Himalayas.
Over the next few days, as we make the journey, we will be providing reports on our blog and crossposting here on Vrindavan Today. Please follow along as we share what we see and hear on this fact-finding mission.
Our expedition started with a very informative and educational meeting with Shri Manoj Mishra, executive Director of the Peace Institute, Delhi. As a well-known expert on the Yamuna and a leading environmentalist as well as a former member of the Indian Forest Service, he has been working for the conservation of Yamuna River for many years. He was happy to share his expert insights into the problems of the river and contributed valuable strategies for their solution.
In order to get firsthand experience of the present situation, we set off to visit different parts of the river, all the while taking samples of the Yamuna water from different points of the river. One main focus of the expedition was also to document the various instances where the real Yamuna water was been diverted from its original course.
The 18-hour road ride first took us to small barrages over the Western Yamuna Canal near Kurukshetra and Karnal areas. Then they reached the awe-inspiring huge and deep river with pure blue waters flowing at great speed. To everybody’s surprise it turned out to be a canal, the Western Yamuna Canal. A little ahead we found the big culprit in this saga — the Hathini Kund Barrage.
The sight of this huge barrage that simply diverts away the entire waters of the River Yamuna from its original course to Braj-Vrindavan where it belongs, into the eastern and western Yamuna Canals, was depressing, in fact revolting. Standing on the barrage you could see a large blue body of water on one side and at the same time a dried river bed with parched rocks littered all over on the other.
The barrage is nothing but a prison wall that stops Shri Yamuna Maharani from flowing on and meeting Krishna at Vrindavan. Irony, loot, oppression, disgust, murder of a culture, the effect of Kali over spiritualism, were among the thoughts that rushed across the minds of the participants as we faced the shocking reality amidst the sun-parched stones at the foot of the barrage.
As only a nondescript small rivulet was able to escape the barrage to continue its flow on the original Yamuna River bed, it was amply evident that the Supreme Court orders that sufficient flow of original river water should be maintained was being grossly violated. Not a drop of Yamuna water flows to Delhi for nine months of the year, what to speak of holy places like Mathura-Gokul and Vrindavan where every year millions of pilgrims are looking forward to taking their holy bath in the Yamuna.
Instead of the original clear blue waters of Yamuna Ji, uninformed pilgrims are getting to bath only in the black and highly polluted waters that flow from Delhi, which is factually nothing more than sewage.
Eager to experience the true pristine nature of River Yamuna, the delegation moved on further upstream. The landscape transformed into one of stunning beauty as the Himalayas began.
The route to Yamunotri taken by the expedition was the one which is parallel to River Yamuna. This route is seldom used by people going to Yamunotri as it is considered a bit dangerous due to slides and waterfalls damaging the road.
Sometimes huge parts of the road were suddenly gone and from time to time big rocks appear like monuments in the middle of it.
As a result, due to the lack of tourists on this route, much of the nature there is undisturbed and clean. Thus one could observe the natural flow of river Yamuna, so different from what is found on the plains. The water is bluish-white and crystal clear, unlike the pure sewage (not one drop of river water) that flows from Delhi to Vrindavan. Several small bridges cross the river with picturesque valleys below and the Yamuna flowing on its natural course — not dammed, diverted or forced to flow in manmade canals. Hundreds of waterfalls dot the way.
Little creeks were flowing towards the river. Occasionally, one could find waterfalls right on the road itself and one had to drive through it with clean water falling on vehicle. Small villages, beautiful rice farmlands on stepped slopes and dense woodlands are frequent on the way.
Experiencing the pristine nature of the river as it flows effortlessly down the breathtaking gorges and valleys of Himalayas one cannot help but fall in love with Yamuna Ji.
The river flowing along is absolutely unpolluted. Any villager on the way will tell you that they do not pollute the river in anyway. It is considered sacred there.
By way of contrast, New Delhi contributes 80% of the Yamuna pollution – 3350 million litres of sewage per day whereas here in the Himalayas you can drink the water direct from the channel. No bottled mineral water can ever compare to its fresh and pure taste.
Finally, after important small towns of Vikas Nagar, Kata Pathar, Barkot and Kharadi, one reaches Jankchatty, which is as far as a vehicle can go. From there it is a steep but wonderful walk of 5 kms to Yamunotri, the sacred source of Shri Yamuna Ji River.
More than the destination, it is the travel which brings you nearer to the river. You get to know the river and experience its divine beauty. Thus spiritual reverence towards Shri Yamunaji comes naturally.
Shri Yamuna Maharani Ki Jaya Ho !!!