Twenty-year-old Columbia University student Harley Green is ready to seize her future and leave her past behind. But when her father vanishes from the Himalayas, leaving behind a mysterious golden key, she must forego all plans and travel to India to find answers about where he went and who was the mysterious companion who last saw him alive. She teams up with a young local named Rajou who assists her in finding the philosophical exploration to the meaning of life. But as they get closer to the fateful glacier that will unlock their answers, Harley makes a surprising revelation that will change how she sees the world forever. Can unlocking her father’s fate help her find her own path in life?
For fans of The Alchemist, The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari, and Rebirth, Harley’s soul-searching and gripping adventure will leave them on the edge of their seat. TheGolden Key of Gangotri is a captivating read for those who root for brave heroines, inspirational journeys and those seeking answers for our greater purpose in life.
Harley felt a tap her shoulder and opened her eyes. The passenger sitting beside her had woken her up. The sun piercing through the bus window colored him gold. Raising his arm, he pointed at the surrounding view. “Rishikesh,” he said and looked out the window. Harley stretched, and as she ran her fingers through her tangled hair, they grazed the painful bruise on her fore- head. She bit her lip and looked around. On her left, green mountains sloped down gently toward the road. In the opposite direction she saw the Ganges River and a string of white-and-pink temples on the riverbank. The tips of other temples, hidden deep inside the green mountains, glowed in the distance. She recalled this was the very place where the Ganges completed its long journey from the Himalayas and began winding its way throughout India, and her heart swelled.
The pilgrims filed off the bus and headed straight to the river, speaking to each other in brisk sentences. Harley followed them. They passed through an area on the riverbank that was flat and full of small white rocks. Huge purple rhododendrons flowers surrounded them, and the blue-green water flowed quickly down the wide river. When the pilgrims arrived at the edge of the water, they wasted no time before going in, fully clothed. Faces aglow, they rejoiced at having made it to the mouth of the Ganges.
Harley observed them for a few minutes, then took off her shoes and placed them near her backpack. She removed her wristwatch, shoving it deep inside her bag, and walked into the river, still wearing her clothes. The frozen water was rejuvenating. Dunking her whole head in, she felt all the aches from the night ride evaporate and her thoughts become clear and sharp. She carried a silent prayer of gratitude for having made it, for being alive and breathing and experiencing life with such clarity. She had no idea how the adventure she had gotten herself into might end but was finally living the life she had always wanted to live, freely and bravely. She smiled, and the Indians nearby smiled back, happy to see this Western tourist connecting to the ancient ritual of bathing in the holy river.
After the refreshing dip, the pilgrims sat down and drank sweet hot chai. Harley held the steaming cup and felt a strange camaraderie with the group gathered on the banks of the sacred river. She began walking toward the main road. Rishikesh was bustling and noisy. Buses and trucks passed through with loud honks; peddlers hawked their wares with hoarse shouts; and rickshaw drivers art- fully navigated the chaos. This was a far cry from the quiet, peaceful town Harley had envisioned. A rickshaw driver pulled up and signaled her with his weathered hand. She gave him the name of the ashram and he nodded, then loaded her backpack at the rear of the rickshaw. Harley sat in the back and he sped off, honking a loud horn every chance he got.
Within ten minutes they arrived at their destination. Harley descended from the rickshaw near a magnificent metal bridge that crossed the river and walked closer so she could examine its beauty. She had long admired beautiful structures and had spent countless hours drawing bridges of every kind. Once I cross this bridge, she thought, I can no longer go back. Engrossed in the moment, she had failed to notice the fading noise of the rickshaw’s engine. She turned her head and saw the rickshaw in the distance, disappearing around the bend. Harley began running toward the bend in the road. There she saw a bustling main street crammed with trucks and buses, all creating a commotion. The rickshaw driver and her backpack were nowhere to be seen. A peddler approached her proffering packs of chewing gum. With a wave of her hand, she sent him away and scoured the street for a police officer. Soon she gave up, overtaken by a sickening feeling. The driver had no intention of coming back. She had just lost all the possessions she had brought with her for the journey, and one possession that was more important than all the others combined. Harley’s father’s letter was lost forever.
The Golden Key of Gangotri was released on August 18 and can be purchased on Amazon.