When Siberian birds called me to Prayagraj

    Flying with the gulls at Prayagraj

    A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song – Maya Angelou 

    That’s the beauty about birds; they sing irrespective of being aware of what pleasant and soothing music they make in the earth’s diurnal course. So, while it may seem my soul was called for a spiritual cleansing to the holy cities of Varanasi and Prayag, I think it was also the Siberian birds which may have echoed in my dreams and beckoned me to their new dwelling in February this year.

    “I wish I had been a bird instead”

    The breathtaking beauty of these Siberian gulls at the confluence in Prayag cannot be easily described in words. The still but forceful waters of the two rivers – Yamuna and Ganga – almost break into laughter with the chirping of these birds – who seem to be tweeting an invitation to you to come enjoy the peaceful precincts of the triveni sangam at Prayagraj.

    A different kind of yatris at the triveni sangam every year

    The boat ride was a pilgrimage in itself – because the stillness of the water and the boat swimming alongside the birds, who incidentally also attend the pilgrimage each year when they come down, was nothing short of oblations and a religious vow.

    Ahoy, matey!

    The migratory gulls throng the river from the months of November to March and then go back to their abode again. It is an escape for them from Eurasia’s harsh winters into the warm open-arm welcome of the river Ganga. This is a celestial event as perplexing as the Sun’s solstice. The birds cover a distance that humans sometimes can’t – and are the best friends of other inhabitants and visitors for those few months – they come flying all the way from Siberia via Afghanistan, Mongolia and Tibet, crossing the Himalayas on the way – if that is not being a travel aficionado, then what is?

    On the boat to triveni sangam

    When they come, the young birds guide their flocks, but when they go back, it is the female birds who lead them. When they fly back after this journey – or what can even be called their pilgrimage – they leave behind important lessons for all humans to follow – those of endurance and coexistence – of love and harmony. So, shall we take a page out of their books and write a new story on it?

    Siberian gulls – the visitors at Prayagraj every year

    For me, it was a soulful trip, one that was spiritually satisfying and giving me a chance (literally) to fly with the gulls, my new friends.



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