According to the official report, when the officer returned, he found that the sadhu had hanged himself with his dhoti. It didn’t. Rawat divulged that a third person, a porter he’d hired, had accompanied them to Mantalai. But beneath Alexander’s glamorous tales was a person searching for higher meaning, sometimes at the expense of sensibility. But it is the dearth of bodies that turns the Parvati Valley into India’s backpacker Bermuda Triangle. All for a price, of course. Andrey Gapon, a 47-year-old Russian man, had spent three months on a self-made spiritual retreat in the Parvati Valley, deep in the Indian Himalayas. When he heard from someone at the Tracker School how to fall safely from a tree, he climbed 50 feet up and let go. Some long-lost meaning to all of this. Some sort of enlightenment? At around 4 p.m., Kunwar reached the cliff-edge section of trail above a 100-plus-foot, near-vertical rock slide down to boulders and churning waters. He was looking for liberation. The Frenchman hiked three hours to Khir Ganga to find the one person he knew was with Alexander last. Disenchanted and restless, he sold the majority of his belongings, packed a backpack, and took off. He arrived in the city of Varanasi, one of the country’s strongest spiritual magnets, where Hindu pilgrims bathe in the holy Ganges River to have their sins washed away. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. According to deputies, 26-year-old Justin Alexander Carter was last seen in the early hours of September 27 - around 4 a.m. - on River Watch Drive in Greenville County. i am the one who first cried wolf. Recently he was on a bike trip around india on a royal enfield motorcycle. Three days after Skeels and Reeb filed the report, police and a small search team that included Skeels landed by helicopter along the trail below Mantalai Lake. Two men said goodbye with a godlike river thundering in their ears. In 1996, Ian Mogford of the UK disappeared in the Parvati Valley after reportedly telling his father over the phone that he had befriended a sadhu. Thank you, Aaron. Gapon offered to go with him, but Alexander said it was a journey he wanted to do with a sadhu, a Hindu holy man who renounces possessions in a search for enlightenment. Alexander epitomized this. The valley, where gods are said to have meditated for 3,000 years, is particularly alluring to the spiritually curious. As news spread in the valley of the missing American, three Indian hikers came forward with a lead. Most of these local Babas are allegedly shady, predatory characters. “I think he was at a time in his life when he was asking himself some questions and didn’t know what direction he wanted to go,” Lee says. Tucked inside was a piece of lined paper on which Alexander had drawn a nag chhatri, a rare trillium flower found at high elevations in the Himalayas that is sought out for its healing properties, a natural panacea. Justin Alexander went searching for higher meaning. Alexander didn’t have a stove or cooking fuel, so Gapon pressed something into his hand, a fitting parting gift to someone who valued both practicality and minimalism: a red windproof butane lighter. Some of the missing are presumed murdered; in 2000, a British man, his fiancée, and her teenage son were brutally attacked while camping above the Parvati Valley. Many see the Parvati Valley as a stage or even the culmination of their quest for enlightenment. i was very close to justin. his mom & i begun the search. “For India speaks to the unconscious: it provokes it, makes it boil and sometimes overflow. After all, at the end of the day was he just soul-searching or was it something else? It was a journey of learning. "They are holy men but wild, and are even above the law in India. Now he killed himself while in custody so really no conclusions can be drawn, but the whole thing is shady as fuck. He wrote that he was “feeling the need for some alone time with mother Himalaya.” When he arrived in the valley, he messaged Christofer Lee, a French traveler Alexander had connected with online a year earlier. Those who follow this path view the Parvati Valley as a penultimate stage or even the culmination of their quest for enlightenment. His smartphone didn’t disgust him; it enabled him to tell his story. What are the motives of these fake holly men killing tourists? “Initially, my notion was that he had taken some drugs and gotten lost,” says additional superintendent Nishchint Singh Negi, who has dealt with many of the cases in his green-walled office in Kullu. He rode into the foothills of the Himalayas. The 35-year-old US national was last seen on September 3 trekking through the Parvati valley in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, and reported missing … After three weeks around Khir Ganga, Alexander emerged from his cave and descended along the forest trail to Kalga, the Parvati River swollen with summer rain below him, determined to take a greater step: higher, in both elevation and hopeful revelation. These false holy men look and dress the part but wander the country searching not for spiritual enrichment but for cash, drawn from those who are curious enough to pay to be in their presence. He would sit on mats around the sadhu’s fire pit smoking chillum, watching him perform complicated yoga asanas, and, when a Hindi speaker was present to translate, learning from him. One Israeli man lived in the valley for decades, growing and dealing hash, getting married and having a child, until he was arrested for overstaying his visa. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! In Hindu tradition, it is supposed to be the place where Shiva’s warrior-son, Kartikaya, meditated for 3000 years. Nearby, they also found a black waterproof backpack cover, a gray scarf, and a red butane lighter. Wherever her son traveled, Suzie Reeb rarely felt nervous. While Parvati is purifying water, Shiva is transforming fire. Alexander didn’t return. Above his final blog post, Alexander had attached a video. Authorities found Mesa resident, Travis Alexander, 30, dead in his own shower with his throat slit, a gunshot wound to his head, and stabs across his back and body. Living with “primitive” tribes. It became an obsession. The video fades to black. “It is not beyond the realms of possibility that... for some reason my son got attacked and is lying on the bottom of a gorge,” Mogford’s father told the Telegraph. Many sadhus live in the valley or accompany travelers there in warmer months, but Rawat stood out because of the large growths on his knees, wrists, and elbows, some as large as a lemon. The media often reports on such disappearances. That is, until I received the “Roads and Kingdoms” (those of you who follow my facebook page already know it’s my favourite blog) newsletter and read the post “Death on the Hippie Trail”, by Ariel Sophia Bardi. He left with a local holy man on or about the 24th of August, leaving most of his belongings in Kasol. “On the path of a spiritual quest, a person questions all of their ingrained values,” Mittal says. During the frantic October search, Alexander’s other belongings were found scattered around the Parvati Valley. With wonder. Meanwhile, Lee and a group of Indian trekking guides familiar with the area searched around Khir Ganga on foot. He never arrived. “I was fighting for my son’s life,” Reeb says. Others deliberately flock to holy centers in India to study meditation, yoga, and spirituality and become enamored of yogis or gurus, often dressing up as a priest or sadhu themselves. The valley’s hillside hamlets and postcard mountain vistas attract tens of thousands of tourists every year, but those who come here are different from those who speed through the Taj Majal on a Golden Triangle tour or backpack from vibrant temple to sparkling beach as the mainstay of India’s tourism. “Maybe he was a great person, but there was something that was very hard and very aggressive with this spirit.” He warned Alexander to be careful. “India inspires in Westerners such intense emotion that it sometimes causes in travelers a kind of delirium, a madness that vanishes spontaneously when they return to their home country,” writes Régis Airault, a psychiatrist who worked for the French consulate in Bombay and published a book in 2000 called Fous de l’Inde—or Crazy in India. If I’m not back by then, don’t look for me ;).”. However Alexander’s journey ended, something happened at Mantalai Lake. The Indian Express is now on Telegram. On August 22, the Russian man walked his new friend through the orchards in Kalga to the trailhead above the river, gave him a red butane lighter, and said goodbye. I think Justin was seen by some hikers after he left the baba. The Jonestown Massacre is the mass suicide of men, women and children alike propagated by the cult’s infamous leader Jim Jones. On the surface, Alexander embodied the “I quit my job to travel” trope, and he amassed a horde of followers—more than 11,000 on his Instagram account alone. thank you for this. The path to Mantalai Lake, high in the Parvati Valley, follows the Parvati River to its glacial source. Skeels had briefly crossed paths with Alexander over the July 4, 2015, weekend in Big Sur, California, and had remained in touch with him. That was when Justin’s story started to haunt me. featured missing adults If you think you know the whereabouts of any person, BEFORE TAKING ANY ACTION, please contact the law enforcement agency listed in the record, or the California Department of Justice using the toll-free hotline: 1-800-222-FIND (1-800-222-3463) or contact us by email . After a search team combed the trail, forensics’ conclusions pointed to a fall. Rawat had a reputation in Khir Ganga for petty theft from negligent tourists, and Lee never had a good feeling about the sadhu. These false holly men are one of the hidden dangers of the Parvati Valley. CR seemed to be suspicious of the baba. Justin Alexander Shetler is missing. Most simply vanished without a trace in this one sliver of the subcontinent. Still, desire for a life-changing experience overwhelmed fear. A man who had allegedly mutilated himself in the name of his devotion. Or maybe he was searching for his most inner Self, whatever that may be (aren’t we all searching for that, one way or another?…). Many visitors come to venerate Shiva, husband of Parvati and one of the most exalted and popular gods in the Hindu pantheon. Alexander established a reputation for being fearless. The nature-based educational program near Seattle, Washington, was co-founded by Jon Young, a protégé of Tom Brown Jr. who established the internationally acclaimed New Jersey–based Tracker School. Santorini: the stereotype or the ultimate Mediterranean getaway. He has not been seen since September 3rd, when he was photographed with some hikers while returning from his trek. Later, the hero returns as a newly made “master of two worlds,” spiritual and material. When Young brought Alexander, a promising survivalist, to the New Jersey school, the teenager arrived with starry-eyed idealism and befriended 22-year-old instructor Tom McElroy. He was surprised to find Rawat sitting in his hut. The one where he describes the man who enticed him to tag along. ... Russia, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia. Lee had been in the Parvati for three months, and the pair now traveled up the valley to Kalga. Now he knew that might never happen. After all, he was just another foreigner who had gone missing in a part of India sadly notorious for foreigners’ disappearances and kidnappings. Justin Alexander Shetler “MOM, I am fine. Was Justin simply too curious to have noticed it? One of his favorite books growing up was Joseph Campbell’s 1949 classic, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which the author presents an archetypal “hero’s journey.” The first step is a feeling or call to adventure, Campbell writes. Some higher purpose. Recently he was on a bike trip around india on a royal enfield motorcycle. Here was a man who wasn’t just surviving in a cave but seemingly thriving. “It was smaller and leaker [sic] than I hoped, so most mornings I hiked an hour down the mountain to sit in the sacred hot springs of Khir Ganga to warm up.”. In fact, he hoped that it would turn out simply amazing. Those Westerners who look for spiritual experiences wherever they can find them, either in a hash pipe or by emulating the sadhus who take them as pupils and promise them the wonders of Heaven. Please support Outside Online today. In the first post on his travel blog, Adventures of Justin, he wrote: “I am running from a life that isn’t authentic…I’m running away from monotony and towards novelty; towards wonder, awe, and the things that make me feel vibrantly alive.” He spent the next two-and-a half years on the road, backpacking through South America and Asia, and driving his motorcycle around the United States. In December 2013, at age 32, Alexander announced his retirement. All in the name of his Search. The potential of the experience was huge! Or maybe at the end of the trail, he found nothing; that the harder he tried, the more it felt like he was grasping at mist—chasing tendrils higher and higher into the mountains. “His life was about looking for something bigger,” Frey says. His mother, on the other side of the world in Portland, Oregon, started to become concerned. “Eventually he pushed the limits a little too far.”. Carrying a flute that he had turned into a walking staff, Alexander headed northwest to the capital of New Delhi, where he bought a used black Royal Enfield Bullet 500 motorcycle and named it Shadow. A 26-year-old man reported missing over the weekend has been found safe. Thank you for sharing this story. The lure of high mountains and high meaning is too strong. Concrete steps that fringe the river ’ s other belongings were found scattered around Parvati... 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