Sunday, 23 October 2011

Integral Development Lab 2 at Himalayas

This program started for me when I met Prof. Srinivas Gunta at Delhi Airport around 8PM on 16 Oct 2011. This is the second time  we are doing this program together (please see for my post on the first program in Nov 2010). I was excited because the strength of the participants jumped to 100 from 34! We started meeting many of them at the Ranikhet Express and next day we reached the Van Nivas Ashram at about 9AM. The program got underway with a simple breakfast and we gathered in the prayer hall at 11AM to kick off the IDL. We call it IDL because it aims at integral development of the participants. the components include fun, adventure activities, communion with nature, good health and well being, team work and bonding opportunities.

We set off for a trek to Tiffin Top. Ours is the first group after the rains to go on this trek and it was an experience to walk through the lush green hill side bathed in the golden rays of the sun , to the music of the rustling winds and bird-songs. You get a beautiful view of the Naina lake from the top but the snow peaks were masked by clouds. As the sun started setting, the lights in the town start coming on , I felt that it was truly "Tare jameen par". We set out on our way back to the Ashram in the descending darkness and ascending chill. You dare not do this alone as this is the leopard land and the walk back was something that we all enjoyed immensely.

The next day was an incredibly clear and crisp day. the picture above hardly does justice to the wondrous sun rise.  We started the day with Yoga and Pranayama and I was very happy that the participants were present in full strength even though their habit on campus was to go to sleep around the time that sun rises. The scrambling event was big hit with the students. It was a joy to behold the sense of triumph as  group after group finished the event and share their experience with lots of excitement. The small cave like rock formations near the Ashram are  ideal for this event - challenging but doable with determination. In the afternoon, we were off to explore the glorious town of  Nainital.  The rope way and the boat ride are two of the 'must-do' and we didn't miss them. The students also explored the markets and were happy to buy mementos and gifts for their near and dear ones.

The next day was reserved for a very special event - an all day trek of 18Km, starting at 8:30 in the morning. Our first stop was Snow View. We did come here the day before on the rope way but the clouds once again played spoil sport. But, we were lucky in our early morning visit and the  Himalayas gave us an unforgettable Darshan. The view of the snow capped Himalayas is one of the sights that is very exciting and never pales no matter how many times you see it. The sight set my pulse racing and I was spell bound by the awesome sight of this unlimited miracle that we call a  mountain range.

Around 10AM, we started our onward trek through the ever changing landscape to Kanchi Dham. Snow View point is around 7000 feet and Kanchi Dham is at about 4000 feet altitude. So, we loose a height of 3000 feet in the trek and that makes it a very friendly trek. We go down most of the time and the springs and brooks and hills and valleys make it one of the most beautiful treks I have ever done. We reached Kanchi around 3PM after a  nice picnic lunch in an alpine glade and then reached Nainital by cabs. I was amazed at the energy of the students- except for 5 of them , every one else went shopping in Nianital! I went back to the Ashram as I sprained my leg when my heel slipped  on a small pebble. A group of 11 students along with Porf. Srinivas explored Jim Corbett National Park

The next two days were the last two days of the program. We started the days with Yoga/ Pranayama and the mornings were set aside for adventure sports in groups. The activities were bouldering, rock climbing, river crossing and rappelling. In the afternoons. we had two hour sessions on Stress Management. This was a big challenge for me as I was trying to compress a two day program into 4 hours. I do hope that the students have a sense that stress in all its forms - including emotional stress is optional and they can lead as stress free life even while working in these modern day corporate or business environments.

 In the evenings, the students prepared for the cultural event and they also had an optional session of Pranayama. I was very happy that many students chose to attend these sessions and I was very happy to conduct the sessions.

The cultural programs were scheduled at 8:30 Pm on the last two days and each group had 10-15 minutes to perform. It was real fun and I am amazed at the creativity of the students. there were songs and skits mostly and I enjoyed every moment. I and Prof. Srinivas also decide to put up a skit. I did something like this after  41 years and it was fun. Real fun. I am happy that it was well  received by the students.

The students really enjoyed the rock climbing, river crossing and rappelling activities. These are relatively easy compared to scrambling and trekking but at the same time, they are fun and the students are all smiles and joy when they complete these events.

On the last day, some of the best efforts were announced by Prof. Srinivas, who was the sole judge.

Best team (Overall): Vanar Sena
Appreciation: Angad Patangrai and Viswas Singh for coordination efforts
Best team name: Naini Baba Nau Chor
Cultural eventsBest acting by a team: Dhakkar Chhore
Most socially relevant concept: Comical Characters (On effects of adverse sex ratio)
Best character: Shaktimaan (Essayed by Pankaj Dhir Monu of Dhakkar Chhore)
2nd best character: Gabbar Singh (Essayed by Yatharth Khobragade of Vanar Sena)

In summary, it was an amazing and fun filled week for all of us. I and Prof. Srinivas thought of a number of aspects that can be fine tuned and also it appears that we can add para gliding for IDL3! I see IDL developing into one of the best 5 day integrated programs ever. I already blocked the dates for IDL3!
I am grateful to IIMI- especially Prof. Ravichandran and Prof. Ramana for the opportunity, Prof. Srnivas for the partnership in facilitating, Van Nivas Ashram Team and the Students. Because the students are, IDL is. Three cheers to the Students !!!
I am grateful to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo for being the source of the Van Nivas Ashram - a place where the Youth can experience nature, adavture and spirituality.I am grateful to Tara Didi and  Nalin-ji for creating this institution and making it available to Youth.


  1. Treking,scrambling,climbing all these adventure game we have never done before and after going through it we have confidence that we can accept bigger challenge in this area.

  2. we have learn to do all the assign task in the group and we are even spending our spare time in the group

  3. Hi, I am Manish Parmar from the group "Sahi Bande Galat Dhandhe". Each member of our group feels that the five days @ IDL 2 are the most exiting and enriching days of our stay at IIM Indore. The programme for each day was prepared to add some value to the life of a participant. At the IIMI campus we are subjected to academic rigour, so we were given a break in form of IDL to experience the physical rigour but in the most fun filled way, which by the way is the best part of the programme. Speaking on the personal front, I would like to mention the value add that I received from the third day "all day long trek". Never in my life I got a chance to walk for 20 kilometer, so initially I was a little worried about what will happen if I am not able to complete the trek. But when we started off I felt as if a new energy was being instilled in me just by experiencing the excitement & enthusiasm rampant among the other members. Most of the trek was surrounded by such beautiful scenery that most of us were praising the nature all the while and by the end of it we didn't even realized a scintilla of pain in our body. The physical exhaustion was actually complemented by the euphoria of achievement and the scenic beauty. Similar kind of experiences were offered by other physical activities as mentioned in the blog. On behalf of the entire group I would like to thank JV Sir & Gunta Sir for being such fantastic co-ordinators and I thank and love the institute for organizing such an exceptionally great event!