Dandi Yatra – A Learning Pilgrimage
Frequently Asked Questions
Based on all the conversations and queries on the various aspects of the Yatra (pilgrimage), here’s some more information that might help each of us make a more informed choice. Since nobody’s an expert here and none of us have walked this route before, please treat these as guiding intentions and thoughts, not precise facts.
Overview of the yatra
Q: What will be the route of the journey?
A: We will walk on the same route as taken by Gandhi ji during his Dandi march in 1930. It begins from Sabarmati ashram in Ahmedabad and ends at Dandi in Navsari district in Gujarat. Main cities along the way will be Anand, Bharuch, Surat.
For a day-by-day recount of his journey, you can visit these links on Google Earth: Voyager, Daily account. It marks the specific locations and also what happened there, along with some archived photos.
Q: What will our daily routine look like?
A: Along with the intent to be present to emergence, we will try to follow the broad routine followed by Gandhi ji in his pilgrimage. Here’s what it will roughly look like…
• 4am: Wake up
• 5am: Personal practices (meditation, chanting, etc.)
• 6am: All-religion prayer in group and check-in
• 6:30am: Walk
• 11am: Meal and rest, meet locals, personal practices
• 3pm: Self-study circle and reflection (Gandhian thought, others)
• 4pm: Walk
• 6pm: Arrive at night halt and settle, group prayer
• 7pm: Meal and check-in, meet locals, personal practices
• 9pm: Sleep
Q: What kind of practices could we undertake for a meaningful experience?
A: The daily walk with an inward looking and the given creative constraints (no money, etc.) is by itself a very potent practice. Additionally, it is up to the collective and individuals to take up practices based on their temperament and wish. Here’s a few possibilities just to trigger thinking:
• Silence or prayer during walk or all-day
• Contemplation or reflection in thought or writing or through mindful conversations
• Take up personal vows (e.g.- some of Gandhi ji’s eleven vows) and practice to the extent possible
• Serve in small ways in the local community (picking up garbage, listening deeply, etc.)
Q: What can one expect during the journey?
A: Overall, one can expect to spend a lot of time with oneself. Beyond that, it’s tough to predict what experiences we will go through and each individual will also experience them in their own way. Our creative constraints are bound to intensify things too, since we will solely depend on the generosity of Mother Nature and locals for our daily needs (food and stay). A principal part of the experience is to face our fears and insecurities and open ourselves to the inherent generosity of Nature and our fellow beings.
Food and shelter will probably come – our culture is rooted in generosity. It may not be as per our preferences though. We must be prepared to go through hardships at various levels – physical, mental, spiritual. On the outside as well as inside. Here’s some aspects worth calling out…
• 20 km walk/day: It is tough and will tax the body (esp. the feet). There will be some amount of walking in the sun too. Highly recommend preparing beforehand with daily walk, etc.
• Uncertainty around water: Generally, water in villages is considered drinkable. But if you’d prefer to be safe (esp. friends from abroad), you can get a portable filter water bottle
• Uncertainty around food and stay: We will be without money and prior arrangements and live off whatever is offered. The facilities may or may not be to our liking (spicy or oily food, sleeping on the floor, dirty or no toilets)
• Being in a collective: Since we will be together as a diverse group, there will be occasions where our likes and dislikes will arise and we will have to balance personal and group preferences. The invitation is to hold these with awareness and grow in equanimity
Q: How many people are expected to be in the group?
A: At present, 10 people from various places and backgrounds have signed up for the full journey and 3-4 others are exploring it. We are happy that there is a good balance of gender and age in the group. Apart from this, some more people are likely to join the journey for shorter durations.
Joining the yatra
If you are moved to join and engage yourself with the above mentioned aspects of the pilgrimage, we heartily welcome you and look forward to walk together.
Q: Can one join mid-way or only for a few days?
A: Yes. It is preferred that interested friends join the full journey. But if you are unable to, you are welcome to join for a duration of your choice too. We will just request you to observe a bit of inward silence before the day of joining the group, as a courtesy to the people who are walking the full distance.
There will be at least one phone in the group during the walk which can be used to share our whereabouts and sparingly communicate.
Q: How do I sign–up for the Yatra?
A: There is no registration or selection involved. Please get in touch with Pratyush (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Madhusudan(email@example.com) and they will be happy to help you explore it further. And later, we will request for some basic information such as contact and travel details and to get to know more about you and your inspiration for the journey.
Q: Is there any payment to be made?
A: No payments anywhere. We will also walk without money, so no expense there either. You will just have to arrange for your travel to and from Ahmedabad and for the personal items you wish to bring along.
Q: When and where shall I arrive to begin? Similarly, when and where can I depart from?
A: For those planning to walk the full distance, the plan is for everyone to arrive in Ahmedabad on Nov 5th latest by 5pm. We will stay at a campus near Sabarmati ashram on 5th and 6th. This will be very useful for us to come together as a group and also set our routine. We begin the walk on 7th at 6:30am.
For return, tentative date is Nov 27. But given the nature of the journey, it is recommended to keep 2-3 days as buffer for unforeseen delays. Especially for those traveling far. For departure place, everyone is welcome to come back to Ahmedabad and leave from there (5-6 hours by train). Or else, can also travel out of Surat (~50 kms from Dandi).
Preparation for the yatra
Q: How can I prepare for the yatra from today?
A: With just a bit of prior daily practice, one can become prepared for the yatra, avoid a large part of the struggle at the physical and mental levels (e.g. – blisters, headaches, mood swings) and have a beautiful experience. Here’s some ideas to explore…
• Walk and exercise daily: This is critical for our body to get used to the exertion, especially the feet. Also useful to build stamina and general immunity
• Spend time in the sun: The sun will be strong during the day in our walk. For those not used to it, please begin to do so for some time
• Sleep without a mattress: It is likely that we will often be sleeping on the floor without a mattress. Recommend giving the body some experience of it
• Inner practices: Consider taking small steps to deepen practice of values like truth, non-violence, simple living, stillness, etc.
• Reading and contemplation: About the Dandi march, Gandhiji or any other uplifting beings or thought
Q: How will we be able to communicate with our family and dependent ones?
A: To withdraw within and be with ourselves, it will be important to cut out outer distractions and communication (social media, selfies, etc). However, it is also important to share news of mutual well-being with our dear ones. With this view, perhaps we can collectively agree to keep the communication down to a bare minimum and limited to certain times of the day (say, rest periods). Maybe some people can carry their phones and others can borrow when they need it.
Q: What will the weather be like during the yatra?
A: In Gujarat, November is usually a period of pleasant weather. The sun is still strong mid-day though and will require us to take a break. There might be a little bit of gentle chill during night and early morning, so perhaps wearing something warm will be useful.
Q: What things shall I bring with me?
A: Goes without saying – lesser the baggage, better it will be. Since we will walk with it extensively. And it’s also a part of the yatra to explore simplicity and how much we really need. We are perhaps best-placed to decide for ourselves. Here’s a laundry list of items that come to mind…
• Sturdy backpack
• Water bottle (and portable filter, if required)
• Suitable clothes: Light, quick-dry, full body cover (to honour village sensitivities and to protect from sun and insects)
• Suitable footwear: Strong and comfortable
• Sun protection, as needed
• Sleeping bag or bed sheet(s)
• First aid kit and medicines, as needed
• Daily-use items: Toothpaste, soap, etc.
• Torchlight (for use in the dark)
• Personal identification (For friends from abroad, passport)
• Energy supplement (nuts, glucose/ORS powder, etc.)
• Mosquito repellent
• Writing material
• Reading material
• Walking stick (will try to arrange in Ahmedabad)
• Musical instrument and the like
Those are the thoughts for now. Grateful for all the suggestions and queries that have helped take this forward. Please keep’em coming.
In maitri and Jai Jagat