Rkm Along

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We reached Along about 6.30 pm. Had left Dibrugarh at 5.30 am, crossed Brahmaputra, stopped by at Malinatthan Temple and Akashiganga so were quite tired. We had a quick shower and then met with Secretary Maharaj. Ramakrishna Mission Along started in 1966 in a thatched building with only 35 students, has over 2,000 students today. It was examination time. U see students minutes before the exam.

It is a huge campus with hills in the background. Very green. Temple dome that you see in centre of pic houses the prayer and dining halls. Campus has a dairy, vegetable farm, poultry, printing press, bakery and a whole section on vocational training eg carpentry, tailoring etc.

Earlier pic was from lower level near entrance. This early morning pic is from temple. The drive from Malinattthan to Along is through dense forests and villages. On day of visit school had 2255 students of whom 31% were girls. Of all the RKM and VKV schools that I visited, this one had the largest number of students - requires very good skills to manage not to forget devotion/sincerity of all those who work there. Monks are a symbol of love, affection and devotion. Far end of pic is Along or Aalo town.

U see Vivekananda Sant Vihar (where monks stay, eat and meditate). It was inaugurated in 1979 by the then President of the Ramakrishna Mission and Math, Srimat Swami Vireshwaranandaji Maharaj. Foundation stone for this education complex was laid by former Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi on 25/12/1967. Today there is electricity, shops, food etc. What must be the condition over 35 years ago? Pranams to every one who has brought RKM Aalo to where it stands today.

Students at Independence Day Function. All through Arunachal Pradesh Yatra found students to be bright, confident and aware of national events. In nearly every way they are as good as children in other parts of the country. Land on which school stands was donated by local people. Admission to the school is much sought after today. This brings pressure from all sorts of people.

After a change walked around the school campus. In this class students eyes were closed, practicing to concentrate. Swami Vivekananda said that learning how to concentrate is very imp for a child. After all if a child''s mind wavers whilst studying he is sure to do badly. Wish I was taught how to concentrate in school. To read Education in the Vision of Swami Vivekananda Click here

In another class that I walked into, students were doing homework. Most students were quite surprised to see me walking around the school, clicking pictures - all wanted to know where I was from. They were surprised that someone had come all the way from Mumbai to travel thru Arunachal Pradesh/visit their school.

A view of the primary school. The school has 3 sections, primary ie KG to 4th 865 students, secondary i.e. 5-10th 1078 students and higher secondary i.e. 11-12th 312 students. All numbers as on date of visit. As on 31/3/2012 Arunachali students constituted 83% of the 2189 students in the school.

This is a early morning study class. It was examination time so students were busy preparing for exams.

This is the boy''s hostel. Showing this because was told that it was designed in a way such that it is earth-quake proof.

This is an overview of the secondary school, early morning buzz. See fog on right of pic.

The boy''s hostel has very good posters, you see one of them. So truly said. If we learn how to concentrate then doing anything (including studying) is much easier. Usually when one gets down to study, we think of everything else but the subject being studied hence learning to concentrate is key.

This is the Dairy. Milk is used for students and also staff who reside in the campus. Like the RKM way of following an integrated facility model even though it results in additional work.

This is the Bakery, biscuits being baked for children. Noticed that everyone who worked on campus was full of love and devotion.

Another painting in the hostel corridor. Swami Kirtidananda of RKM wrote that tribal children are invariably very good artists as we can see in this pic.

Kids in an early morning animated discussion. The children of Arunachal are so so sweet. To see pics of kids across the state Click here

Hostel room of the children you saw in earlier pic - the ones learning how to concentrate.

Children very playful. By the morning students had sort of figured out why I had come - then after me to click their pics. One of them got a rose for me. Love them.

Early morning football game. Football is the state game - virtually every school I went to saw kids passionate about football. If the Tatas or any other corporate were to set up a Football Training Academy in Arunachal am sure the Indian team would scale new heights. Since Arunachal is mostly hilly, children have very strong legs.

Breakfast. The dining hall is not as clean as say that of RKM Deomali but children being children, one cannot expect a perfect world. Saw atleast 20 liquor shops in Along. When I asked around why so many shops, was told that State Govt has, in order to earn revenue, issued licenses left, right and centre. During visit got to know of bad effect on students who took to drinking at a very young age. Agreed Along is a biggish town but over 20 shops! The Armed Forces buy from their Canteen. So why so many shops.

RKM has 13 school buses and 6 light commercial vehicles to bring students to school. This way students from villages and interior areas of West Siang district are able to come. U see students getting off school bus, headed for examination hall.

Last minute studying before exam. From Along do visit Mechuka (about 7 hours drive). It is the forbidden valley of Arunachal is blessed with stunning beauty of blue hills, rivers and lush green forests. It is home to the Memba tribe who mostly follow Buddhism. Prime attraction is an ancient Buddhist Monastery called Samten Yongcha of Mehayana sect, is 400 years old. A friend from Pondicherry visited recently and told me, I missed something considering was so close. To see pics of Bodh Gaya Temple Click here

Morning Assembly of secondary school. Also Guru Nanak visited Mechuka once and meditated at the origin of river Yomgo. Mechuka is 180 kms from Along and at a height of 6,000 feet. Beauty of Mechuka Lake is beyond words. The melted water here from the ice capped mountain is believed to have medicinal values. It is 29 kms from the Indo China border. Memba tribe celebrate the Losar Festival in the month of February.

Children chant various prayers. In centre is my tour guide and friend P G Dodum without whom could never have done Arunachal Pradesh Yatra.

Early morning view in campus. After reading a book by Swami Kirtidananda, who worked at RKM Along in the late 1960''s, realized that the wonderful children and campus that we see today is the result of Sewa by thousands of Monks and Locals. My Pranams to them. Bharat needs More of Them.

Student writing exam papers. Students and elders in Arunachal speak very good Hindi - not the Uttar Pradesh type shudh Hindi but as is spoken elsewhere. In the State Assembly it is Hindi i.e. spoken.

During interaction with students across VKV and RKM schools found girl students to be much more confident and brighter. Very happy to note that because I sincerely believe that India''s future is intertwined by the progress made by her women.

There is a dispensary and X ray facility for treatment of children. U see school doctor checking blood pressure of friend and guide P G Dodum. To see U Tube channel for RKM Aalo Click here

In the school office where Monks is a room where an Secretary Maharaj sat. It has an old world charm about it and some priceless pictures of visit by various leaders. This one shows former PM, the late Rajiv Gandhi and wife Sonia Gandhi. Pic should be around 1986-88.

Left is Y B Chavan, former Home Minister who visited the school in December 1968 to inaugurate a new school building and hostel. He was a senior leader from Maharashtra. Right of pic is former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Every evening a Mobile Medical Unit visits a village. I accompanied the unit to a village about 30 minutes away. U see a typical local home. It is at a height, made of bamboo and covered with hay. Flooring is bamboo only. Every house has a fire area around which family sits. Visited many tribal homes across the State, all of them use gas cylinders. Virtually every house had a motor cycle, some had cars too. The most popular model being Maruti Alto.

Mobile Medical Unit covers 13 villages, visits each village twice a month. When we reached there was a long queue of villagers waiting for the doctor.

A compounder distributes medicines as advised - all services provided free of cost. This service is very helpful. During visit children are provided with milk as well. During 12 months ended March 2012, 9000 litres of milk were distributed to 36,000 tribal children.

Arunachal is rich in flora and fauna. Pic given by RKM Along.

Notice color of insect. Pic given by RKM Along.

We returned from the village just in time for the evening prarthana (prayer) session. An overview of the prayer hall. Left of pic are children who chant and play musical instruments.

A front view of children, their kurtas pajamas were spotlessly white - could model for a RIN bar advertisement.

Pics in prayer hall left to right. Swami Vivekananda, Zarathustra, Jesus, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Buddha, Guru Nanak and Ma Sarada Devi.

Girls of Higher Secondary Section participating in 100 mts race during Annual Sports - 2012. Pic and caption by RKM Aalo.

Shot put throw by Higher Secondary Section student during Annual Sports 2012. Pic and caption by RKM Aalo.

High Jump during Annual Sports 2012. Pic and caption by RKM Aalo. To see pics of Vivekanand Kendra School Tafragaon i.e. near Tezu Click here

U see DONO POLO DERE AALO. Established in 1972. Dono Polo is the local religion of the tribes of Arunachal. This place is the nerve centre of cultural activities and torch-bearer of socio-cultural renaissance of Galo tribe. Dono Polo followers worship the Sun and the Moon. In VKV Ziro I showed students the Surya (Sun God) locket and said I too worshipped the Sun God. They were surprised. Then added I chant the Gayatri Mantra daily i.e. dedicated to Surya or the Sun God. To read Awakening to the Gayatri Mantra Click here

Every year the locals of Aalo and nearby places of East and West Siang district take out a procession in their traditional colorful dress on Indigenous Faith Day i.e. celebrated on 31st December every year. U see pics of 2012. The procession ends at the Dono Polo Dere that you saw in the previous pic.

Every year the locals of Aalo and nearby places of East and West Siang district take out a procession in their traditional colorful dress on Indigenous Faith Day i.e. celebrated on 31st December every year. U see pics of 2012. The procession ends at the Dono Polo Dere. To see pics of Shiva Lingam Ziro Click here

Every year the locals of Aalo and nearby places of East and West Siang district take out a procession in their traditional colorful dress on Indigenous Faith Day i.e. celebrated on 31st December every year. U see pics of 2012. The procession ends at the Dono Polo Dere. To see pics of Parasuram Kund Click here

Every year the locals of Aalo and nearby places of East and West Siang district take out a procession in their traditional colorful dress on Indigenous Faith Day i.e. celebrated on 31st December every year. U see pics of 2012. The procession ends at the Dono Polo Dere. To see pics of the Tawang War Memorial Click here

Every year the locals of Aalo and nearby places of East and West Siang district take out a procession in their traditional colorful dress on Indigenous Faith Day i.e. celebrated on 31st December every year. U see pics of 2012. The procession ends at the Dono Polo Dere. To see pics of the scenic Mayudia hill station near Roing in eastern Arunachal Click here

Students painting in hostel corridor. I spent some memorable time with the 6-8th standard students whilst was walking around the hostel. To reach Aalo from Dibrugarh we had to cross the river Brahmaputra. To see pics of crossing Click here

Animal that you see is typical to Arunachal Pradesh. It is called MITHUN. Looks like a buffalo but is different. To see pics of Malinatthan Temple Click here

Children at play. Young children of Arunachal Pradesh are so sweet, adorable. Pic by RKM Aalo. To see pics of VKV Tafragam Click here

Vishwakarma Puja being performed in the school on the day I reached. The festival and Ganesh Chaturthi are celebrated across the State. To see pics of RKM school Deomali Click here

Do visit the Craft Centre in Along. Very well stocked with different local products for e.g. textiles, dhurries, cane furniture, clothing, tables etc. U see me with shirt worn by locals is called Galup with traditional cap and knife i.e. called OYOK.