Chris De Bié - Storia Theurgica - The Hippie trail -
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Storia Theurgica
The Hippie trail


- _1. The escape
- _2. Gate to Asia
- _3. Persia
- _4. Afghanistan
- _5. Pakistan
- _6. India
- _7. Nepal
- _8. Back to Europe
6. India

Amritsar - Haridwar - Rishikesh - Manikaran - Pushkar
Bombay - Goa - Hampi - Dharamsala - Gorakhpur


Next morning I returned to Delhi taking the Haridwar way. There I spent a couple of days at the Tourist-Camp near Delhi Gate opposite the L.N.J.P. Hospital. It is a large area with many smallish bungalows, each one of them fitted with a TV though, and plenty of room for campers and tents. Indians are not allowed to enter the Camp. At the reception there was a note saying:
"Don’t use any drugs, otherwise you will be faced with the rules of our country".
This is where I met a German who was raving about Manikaran.
“This is not as overcrowded as Manali. Therefore there are no Hotels nor Restaurants.”
“That's not so important. I gladly put up with it in return for nature and an authentic village life.”
“Remember to get off at Bhuntar. I wish you unforgettable experiences.”
“Thanks for your very valuable advice!”

I bought my bus ticket to Bhuntar at Connaught Place and deposited my luggage there. Having time to spare till the departure of the bus I decided to visit the Red Fort. An imposing Fortress and Castle going back to the Mogul Era. It is a truly impressive example of their art of architecture and reign. I tried to imagine the lavish splendour, the thousands of attendants and the compulsory ladies of the harems. Decadent rulers having built their riches and influence on slavery.


Red Fort
Photo by Robert Fraisl

Together with many other freaks I boarded the bus to Manali, which was famous for its charas! I asked the driver to tell me when I had to get off. And he replied with a gesture that left all possibilities open: he shook his head from left to right and at the same time was bobbing it up and down. I was baffled, was he shaking his head, or nodding? It was more of a rocking motion, a slight swaying of the head which in India could mean either, yes or no, further complicated by the fact that here nodding and shaking of the head generally meant the opposite of what was common in europe. So to be on the safe side, I watched the road signs. I knew that Bhuntar was approx. 40Km from Manali and asked the driver to stop there. He might have overlooked it – not paying attention, unintentionally or intentionally. I was the only one though getting off at Bhuntar shortly before Kullu. Manikaran really seemed to be an 'insiders’ tip!
  Robert Fraisl



All by myself I was sitting in a restaurant waiting for the bus to the final destination for several hours. The owner offered me a large quantity of hash. I accepted a small amount and he congratulated me on my decision not to go to Manali and so he told me about Manikaran. According to legend Shiva and Parvati lived there for over a thousand years because they so greatly loved this location. Until one day Parvati lost a gemstone (Mani) from her earring whilst taking a bath in the river. As Shiva’s search remained fruitless , he got so angry that he opened his third eye; this would have led to total destruction. Fearing the worst the Gods asked Shesh Nag, the Snakegod to look for the lost gemstone. He hissed and hissed and fabricated bubbles and hot water in the river at which the river gave forth many precious stones, including the one Parvati had lost. Since that time the water is boiling there and spits out sulphurous gases close to the river’s edge. Guru Nanak, Saint of the Sikh-Religion visited the holy springs of Manikaran and many are the tales of miraculous healings taking place there.
  Ting Po


Kullu Valley


Kullu Valley II
Photos by Ting Po

The road was adventurous to say the least and we left the Kullu Valley and entered the Parvati Valley. My stomach and nerves had to endure a lot. Several times I saw buses at the bottom of the valley, buses that had come off the road and crashed. The magically beautiful landscape though managed to compensate this.

And at last the vapours could be seen. I crossed the Parvati River over a bridge and took, as most of my fellow travellers did too, accommodations at the Gurudwara. A free of charge hostel, open to everybody. The Sikh Temple had been built on a hot spring and there was a huge bath with hot water. High doses of uranium and radioactive minerals also been found in these hot springs.

For hours I sat on the edge of the pool my legs halfways in the hot water, the water that was supposed to have healing qualities for both mind and body. After a while I dared to enter the hot water completely and swam – much to the surprise of the Indian pilgrims – through half of the pool. After that I joined the Saddhus who were camping close to the Temple beside a small hot spring. In some areas the ground was so hot that there was the danger of burning ones feet, as of course in the Temple we were walking barefooted. Tired from my bath and after having shared a chillum with the Babas I lay down in my sleeping bag. I took my breakfast at the Chaishop. Apart from the Gurudwara this was the only place one could eat in the village. Here is where I met with Steve and Maria from England who invited me to their rented room. Proudly they showed me what they had gathered in one week - about 500 gram of the finest Charas.

"Every day we went higher into the mountains and bought dope from the people who were on their way down. They go up to 4000 meters, the plants there have the highest amount of resin. Half way up there’s a Chaishop there you might get more, but it’ll be more expensive."
"How much is one tola and how much do they want per gram, Steve?"
"A tola are 11,6 grams and they charge you 10 Rupees. In Goa this will fetch at least 100."
He showed me his self-made scale made from the lids of cans and three coins. 1, ½ and ¼ Rupee in silver from colonial times and they weighed exactly 1, ½ and ¼ Tola.

Silver-Rupee of 1917
Photo by Peter Engelhardt

"Even the best cannot get more than 2 Tolas per day. Do you know how they harvest?" "Yes on the way from Rishikesh to Kedarnath I saw it. I have also given it a try but it took me very long!"
"Yes, this is an art all of its own! Do you want to buy my scale? I'll buy a real one in Delhi! Let’s say for 50 Rupees!"
"Yes with pleasure! I could really use it well!"
"You could also take over our room!"
"Oh yes I’ll gladly do that."
"Did you know that the ‘Dussehra’ is taking place in Kullu?"
"More than a hundred statues of Gods from the surrounding villages are being brought to Kullu to pay their respect to Lord Raghunath. This festival lasts for a whole week and there’s a huge market. You shouldn’t miss that! Tomorrow we will be going to Pushkar in Rajasthan, passing through Kullu on the way. There’s a huge camel market taking place there, next to a holy lake right at the edge of the desert. Here I still got a present for you."
He gave me an LSD trip on paper, wrapped in tin foil.
"Acid of finest quality. We have to go to sleep now since we want to get up early in the morning. I will tell the landlord that you will take over the room. Good luck and have a nice trip!"
"Thanks for all the infos and especially for the acid. We’ll probably meet in Goa!"
"See you at Christmas in Goa, Chris!"

With a feeling of greatfullness, I took over my new quarters the next day. As much as I enjoyed the company of the pilgrims, and especially the Babas, it felt good to have a place where I could withdraw. I now was the only foreigner in Manikaran, probably in the whole Parvati Valley. The only food to be obtained here was rice with dhal, the Indian national dish made from lentils from the Temple and perhaps a few Pakoras made from potatoes, onions and chickpea flour from the Chaishop. So I decided to travel to Kullu the following day to visit the festival and purchase some foodstuff.

In Kullu a large market expected me with handicraft from various Himalayan regions and the amazing procession of deities carried on sedan chairs.
  Peter Engelhardt


Procession of the Deities

The God's statues were carried in palanquins – some of the statues were made of gold while others were silver, and all of them were beautifully decorated with flowers. They were accompanied by musicians who were blowing into large, silver coloured horns.
  Remy Galet-Lalande


Horn blowers
Photos by Remy Galet-Lalande - 1975

I purchased one of those broad shawls typical of Kullu. Then I bought some dried fruits, nuts, sweets, apples and potatoes. With a variety of new impressions, and a good quantity of provisions, I returned to my little village. I arrived late in the evening and put away my provisions and then proceeded to visit the Babas. I brought them some potatoes and they were happy. In one place the spring water was so hot that they boiled their rice there, or as now the potatoes I had brought to them. I told them about the Dussehra in Kullu and was informed that there was going to be a festival in Manikaran.

Next morning there was an aura of festivity in the village. Stalls were built and the people of the village washed their houses and cleaned themselves. After one chai, I proceeded to climb Harinder Mountain, with a few apples, some dried fruit and the LSD in my bag. One look at the mountain was supposed to free you from all evil, the same effect as taking a bath in the holy spring. Manikaran is 1737 meters above sea level and on this day I climbed approximately 1000 meters. An old woman offered me half a Tola on the way, work which took her several hours. I gave her 5 Rupees and an apple and she was totally happy. I had the impression that she hadn’t had an apple for a long time for she was patting it gently. I was happy to have made her happy and probably she was going to share this little treasure with her whole family. Encouraged by this event I unpacked my silver foil and put the acid on my tongue. I enjoyed this feeling and only swallowed the paper after a while. When I arrived at the Chai shop I had 3 Tolas and the acid was beginning to work.

I found myself amongst a group of tradesmen. Now this surprised me a little, despite of what Steve had told me and I felt slightly insecure. Even though I could not understand their language, I could follow their conversation. Without them it was not possible to obtain a larger quantity in a short time. However, now wasn’t the time for me to make any transactions. I went outside and enjoyed the spectacular view into another valley of many. The sky slowly took the colour of rhododendrons, bathing the landscape in rich reds and purples. It was the starting signal for a colourful procession which moved downhill towards the village. They all were on their way to the festival, wearing their best clothes, their most beautiful jewellery, smiling an enchanting smile. There were more and more people and I was in their midst.

Manikaran was unusually illuminated by those many extra lights. The smell of fried sweets and Pakoras was in the air. Tibetan Lamas wearing magnificent clothes danced in the Shiva Temple, they were turning around in circles. The whole room seemed to be circling; my surroundings seemed to notice the state I was in. However they were friendly towards me. I closed my eyes and saw myself stripped to the core in the presence of a Buddha. I felt tiny as a mouse, no smaller even. As small as an egg - the archetype of life. I glided into the air as a crane and once I was on eye level with the Buddha I got lost in endless space, lost in the eternity...


Lost in the eternity
Aquarell by Bernhard Leyendeckers

When the dances were over I went to my room and took an unopened box of sweets from my provisions, hid it unter my scarf and walked to the spring, whose vapours was glittering in rainbow colours. The Babas were smiling at me and even more so when they saw me taking out the box of sweets. I put the box in a corner and said:
"The water is calling me! I will be right back though. Watch the goodies!"
"Don’t make us wait too long!" they answered back and their laughter was reverberating in the temple.

The Pool was mine. This time I quickly got used to the hot temperatures – they were around 40° - 50° celsius and I swam and swam through this elixir of life. The Parvati River was partly frozen and the outside temperatures were accordingly. I don’t know how many times I got out of the Pool, ran outside in my underwear to look at the frozen river and then came running back inside to take a leap into the hot water. I do remember however, how this difference in temperatures became less and less noticeable to me, yes it became almost non-existent. I could have gone on forever with this game but then I remembered the Babas who were looking forward to their sweet titbits.
I went back to the orange and red robed Babas - there must have been twelve of them - and they were as happy as children when I placed the box in their midst! I was carried by their energy!
"OHM ... shanti ... shanti…"
a young Saddhu said those words to me and pointed at the boiling water.
"Shiva’s voice! Shanti... shanti."

I sat down directly opposite the bubbling spring. It appeared to me that Shiva was telling me about the continuous circle of life and reincarnation, of destruction and creation. I was sucked into an never ending multicoloured spiral consisting of red rubies, blue sapphires, fire opals and aquamarines.
  Bernhard Leyendeckers


Inside a drop of water
Digital image by Mimulux

I moved slightly away and concentrated on one single drop of water and got immersed again in this cosmic vortex. Macrocosm inside microcosm - the inside is out and the outside is in.

Back in the circle of my friends their eyes turned to caleidoscopes. As the eldest got up to hand me a Burfi, made of milk, sugar and pistachio and wrapped in silver leaf, he looked like father Christmas to me, clad in his purple garment, with his long white hair and beard. Somebody had moved into a kind of wooden shed at the periphery of our site. Only once in a while was his hand visible when a chillum or food was handed around, something which amused everybody. No secrets could be kept from him. When there was only one sweet left, and immediately his hand appeared.

Another week I went on my enjoyable shopping spree. Meanwhile the locals knew me; and many of them recognised Steve’s scales which gave me further credit. Now it was getting colder here and time for me to move south.


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© by Chris De Bié admin: 17.03.2019