He was walking alone. Nearby, they also found a black waterproof backpack cover, a gray scarf, and a red butane lighter. It’s not difficult or unusual for foreigners to deliberately drop off the radar for the full duration of or even illegally beyond their travel visas. (Photo: @adventuresofjustin/Instagram). 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. He was ready to play big, and when you play big, it’s all or nothing.” Skeels, however, thinks that sleeping in a cave in the Himalayas was simply Alexander pushing himself physically, and that the “don’t look for me” line was written to attract followers. I hadn’t thought about the holly man being predatory before, yet now that I read this I wonder what happened up there alone with the guru meditating for 10 days. 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. In her eyes, Rawat at best knew more than he was saying and at worst might have taken her son’s life. When Lee and several other friends confronted him, the sadhu became angry, saying, “Justin is crazy.” Rawat claimed the American had left him after they met some trekkers near Mantalai Lake and that Alexander headed higher up the valley with them. His search lead him to his pro bono social work. Or enduring the hardships of an ascetic life in the Parvati Valley. His eagerness to get back to his belongings makes me wonder if by this stage he was doubting the motives of the guru, wanting to reach his stuff before the other man did. On October 15, two days after Reeb had filed an official missing person’s report at the district police office in the city of Kullu, near the mouth of the Parvati Vally, Rawat was apprehended and brought before her and Skeels. Meanwhile, Lee and a group of Indian trekking guides familiar with the area searched around Khir Ganga on foot. “I think he came to a point where he realized that just being able to survive in tough conditions is not enough to really be free,” Gapon says. For some, enlightenment lies at the end of a hash-packed chillum; for others, at the top of a snowcapped mountain; and for others still, in the quiet company of a holy man who promises wisdom. He then walks barefoot through a meadow, drinks from a mountain stream, and lights a fire in his cave before lying down. I also couldn’t help admiring him. On September 3, they said, they had encountered Alexander, the sadhu, and the porter near the murky pools at Mantalai and had taken a picture with the American. Alexander epitomized this. Remembering Justin Alexander Shetler is not just a way of honouring who he was and his restless search. But the glitz of the job didn’t impress Alexander for long. 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. What's become of Justin Alexander Shetler? Most likely a predator. What's become of Justin Alexander Shetler? Regardless of the body count. plz contact me, i would like to speak to you. Justin’s mother is not aware of any friends or family that Justin would go see other than … Mind me, I never met Justin. Or had he simply discarded his flute and butane lighter near the churning waters? He was last seen walking down the track. During the frantic October search, Alexander’s other belongings were found scattered around the Parvati Valley. All in the name of that elusive feeling of oneness with the Universe. He was clearly in a hurry to get to his belongings as soon as possible. Warning tales of travelers’ death and disappearance are constantly brought to us by the media. As Harley Rustad reports at Outside, it’s also known for a plethora of missing and (presumably murdered) Western adventure tourists. Some higher purpose. In 2009, he joined a friend in Miami to work for a tech startup focused on luxury goods, which allowed him to travel, eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, and stay in fancy hotels. Gapon was impressed. It just means one has to be extra carefull. his mom & i begun the search. “I think he was on a spiritual quest,” she says. In the name of money, drugs, or God knows what. Justin was tired, cold and hungry when he followed the Baba up those mountains. They can bless or curse. His smartphone didn’t disgust him; it enabled him to tell his story. “We have so many instances of that, people falling in the river.” But after finding out that Alexander had spent so much time with a sadhu, had lived in a cave, and carried a flute-staff, the police included his “don’t look for me” post in their official report as important context for his disappearance—that he could have been yet another foreign backpacker with a case of India syndrome who had dropped off the grid on purpose. The Jonestown Massacre is the mass suicide of men, women and children alike propagated by the cult’s infamous leader Jim Jones. The isolation and lack of regulation only add to the draw. She found his final post “distressing” and worried that he was pushing himself too far. But his mind (and soul?) Four days earlier, Alexander had blogged about his plan to meditate, practice yoga, and learn from the sadhu during this journey. (Photo: Courtesy of Andrey Gapon). The last photo of Justin shows him looking tense and unwell and not his usual smiling self. 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. They said the sadhu was arguing with Alexander when they first approached, and Alexander told them that he was hungry and tired and wanted to descend. Many visitors come to venerate Shiva, husband of Parvati and one of the most exalted and popular gods in the Hindu pantheon. Justin left with the Baba around the 24th of August 2016. Reeb struggled to keep her composure. “Some babas are very charming and outgoing, but this baba was rough and crude,” he says. When Rawat joined the porter at an old forest service hut, Alexander hadn’t arrived. 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. Either by playing an active part in his disappearance or simply by deceiving him into believing he was a holly man who could show him the things Justin spent all his life looking for. In December 2013, at age 32, Alexander announced his retirement. He dropped out of school. Now Alexander was embarking on a three-day trek to a holy site called Mantalai Lake, where he would camp under the stars with few supplies. Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) receives congratulations from tight end Tyler Conklin (83) after he-scores a touchdown against the … There is only one road in and out of the Parvati Valley. 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 . Nearly a year has gone by, since the American trekker Justin Alexander Shetler went missing in the Himachal Pradesh, North India. “If there’s one guy who could jump through that window, it would be him,” he says. Over the roar of the river, he cried out, “I see the flute!”. The travelers who feel drawn to the Parvati Valley, more than a full day’s bus ride north of New Delhi into the Himalayas, quickly settle into a pace of life common in this remote corner of India: a blur of weeks or months spent meditating, practicing yoga, and consuming copious amounts of hash grown in clandestine plantations or from plants that sprout wild along river and road. Find more newsletters on our. "They are holy men but wild, and are even above the law in India. Rawat divulged that a third person, a porter he’d hired, had accompanied them to Mantalai. “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. Those he’d met in the Parvati Valley were also growing worried. 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. As a teenager, McElroy remembers, Alexander wanted to live a near-mythological saga. 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. Rawat had invited him on a “spiritual trek” toward the river’s source at Mantalai Lake. Justin trusted him. 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. Most of the trail from the lake is a gradual traverse across moraine and alpine meadow, but there is one section, as the trail approaches the tree line, where it fringes a cliff edge above the river. According to the accounts of the hikers (whom he knew and met on the trail) he had not eaten in 2 days and was severely underweight & physically depleted. The valley may appear idyllic, but it holds a dark past. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google, Thanks for signing up! The lake lies in a broad basin relentlessly tormented by winds and subfreezing temperatures. But it is the dearth of bodies that turns the Parvati Valley into India’s backpacker Bermuda Triangle. The Baba ended up being arrested by the local police. Over the past 25 years, according to both official and unofficial reports, at least two dozen foreign tourists have died or disappeared in and around the Parvati Valley. The numbers differ, but they’re always impressive. Now he knew that might never happen. His friend reported his disappearance to the police on October 3. "They are holy men but wild, and are even above the law in India. The pair consults local law enforcement, friends of the missing and a psychic medium for answers. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. And he ignored what his instinct was telling him: that all this smelled of danger, that things were not as they seemed. http://drivenbythemonsoon.com/en_US/hidden-danger-remembering-justin-shetler/#ZW5fVVMucG5n, http://drivenbythemonsoon.com/en_US/hidden-danger-remembering-justin-shetler/#cHRfUFQucG5n, http://drivenbythemonsoon.com/en_US/hidden-danger-remembering-justin-shetler/#MTUwMDY5MTNfMTQ, Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), A day in Cobh and my new Asian-Irish haircut, Cobh: Titanic, Lusitania and other sad stories of this picturesque town in the south of Ireland, Lisbon Restaurants – Part 1: Ethnic Restaurants. The baba is/was suspected to have knowledge on the fate of Justin. There, Alexander met a dreadlocked foreigner who played a bamboo flute and said, in a thick German accent, that he had been living in India for the past 20 years—“a simple life, with few possessions,” Alexander wrote online in admiration. At his center in New Delhi, Sunil Mittal, a consultant psychiatrist and director of the Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, sees about one foreign tourist per week that he would describe as having India syndrome. The following year it was Polish national Bruno Muschalik who disappeared. Now he’s gone missing and his friends and family have enlisted a … “For India speaks to the unconscious: it provokes it, makes it boil and sometimes overflow. 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?…). On Monday morning, deputies said Justin Alexander Carter was safe. And to his travels and incredible personal experiences. Did Justin lay down a gorge somewhere along the trail? Naïf people, desperate people, lost people. They come to sit where the Buddha achieved enlightenment under a bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya; they come to wander Rishikesh, where the Beatles spent weeks in an ashram in 1968 penning songs; and they come for the Maha Kumbh Mela, believed to be the largest religious gathering on the planet, where in 2013 an estimated 30 million people congregated in a single day. “It’s like a bomb,” Mittal says. It brings forth the buried, from the deep layers of our psyche.”. Those who follow this path view the Parvati Valley as a penultimate stage or even the culmination of their quest for enlightenment. Telling his last story. The path to Mantalai Lake, high in the Parvati Valley, follows the Parvati River to its glacial source. He was looking for liberation. He was questioned during 8 days. Just after 7 p.m. on October 21, the police officer in charge of Rawat’s post stepped outside to relieve himself. It is the dearth of bodies that turns the Parvati Valley into India’s backpacker Bermuda Triangle. He had solved the Great Mystery. A Nepali man, arrested by Kullu police in connection with the disappearance of US national Justin Alexander Shetler in the Parvati Valley, allegedly committed suicide on Saturday. “When my greater fear told me no, Justin would just go for something,” McElroy says. ... Russia, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia. Thank you for your help. The lure of high mountains and high meaning is too strong. Recently he was on a bike trip around india on a royal enfield motorcycle. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Alexander arrived determined to head into the mountains, not to smoke away the days in some grubby hostel until his visa ran out. Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today. There was a first-aid kit and an extensive array of survival items. Reeb didn’t believe the story either. Please support Outside Online today. He left with a local holy man on or about the 24th of August, leaving most of his belongings in Kasol. He has not been seen since September 3rd, when he was photographed returning from his trek. He had ended his search. Police were called when neighbors reported a woman having sex with her pit bull in her backyard in broad daylight. Although I never met him, I felt deeply touched by his story and travel / life experience. But the country has a way of taking hold of the spiritually curious and turning innocent idealism into devoted fervor. And the local hot springs are believed to have healing powers. Justin’s mother is not aware of any friends or family that Justin would go see other than … The valley, where gods are said to have meditated for 3,000 years, is particularly alluring to the spiritually curious. Justin Bieber, 26, gives his fans a look at the tattoo removal process for his upcoming music video Anyone as he posted a time-lapsed video of him getting spray painted in a pair of white briefs The Parvati River thundered below. In the past 10 years, as many as 20 foreigners have gone missing and are still untraced. And here are my assumptions (as fallible as they are): Justin was searching for something. He left with a local holy man on or about the 24th of August. “I was fighting for them to consider that he was really missing.”. As if there was a part of me that understood (and related to) his endless search, his yearning for solitude and soul communion. The Russian was instantly drawn to the tall, broad-shouldered American man with an eagle tattoo across his chest who said he was living in the mountains. But he was a false prophet. Lee didn’t believe it, so he immediately filed a police report at the small station nearby. In mid-June 2016, with thunderclouds disgorging monsoon rain on the subcontinent, Alexander crossed the border from Nepal into India. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Kullu: Suspected for being involved in American trekker Justin Alexander Shelter going missing in Manikaran valley on 24th August,2016, a Naga sadhu Satya Narayan Rawat, said to be from Nepal, committed suicide at a Kullu police lockup at around mid-night on the Friday-Saturday intervening night.. Many see the Parvati Valley as a stage or even the culmination of their quest for enlightenment. Every summer, the valley hosts a Rainbow Gathering, a counterculture congregation that promotes anti-consumerism and utopianism. The video fades to black. “Justin led a life that many people wanted to lead,” Skeels remembers. He followed in hope of learning the secrets of the holy man, his magic ways. For years, he had dreamed of driving over one of the highest motorable mountain passes in the world, the 17,582-foot Tanglang La, and into the remote region of Ladakh, the northernmost tip of India. A drug addict with a sick mind. But this doesn’t mean one should not go to the Parvati Valley. The sadhu was short and slim, wore a saffron dhoti (a wrap around his waist), and had long, matted dreadlocks characteristic of Hindu ascetics. He never arrived. “You couldn’t help but think that he was going to wander around the corner, all skinny and emaciated, and say, ‘Tom! 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 technique is to grab and release branches to gradually slow your fall, but Alexander missed some, rag-dolled the last 20 feet, and slammed into the ground, narrowly avoiding cracking his skull on nearby rocks. The last case of missing foreign trekkers was registered on August 21, 2016, when Justin Alexander Shetler, a native of United States went missing in Manikaran valley. Somewhere in the high reaches of the Parvati Valley, he disappeared. Rawat told Alexander he had cut off his penis in an extreme repudiation of lust. We hear from our audience every day about how much they love our long-form journalism. It is a place where wandering ascetics, New Age neophytes, and determined religious tourists flock, believing that the bumpy road to nowhere instead leads to long-sought answers or higher understanding. Of Justin’s shadow in my mind. Only the man survived. And a restless one. Among Shiva’s most resolute followers are the sadhus who dress and live in emulation of the gods, but many Westerners are also lured by his familiar symbolism as the dreadlocked master of meditation and yoga and the supreme renouncer of possessions, and follow suit. 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. Through their investigation, the police who oversee the Parvati Valley favored explanations that didn’t point to another murder of a foreigner in their district. When he was 16, his mother, Suzie Reeb, withdrew Alexander from high school and enrolled him in the Wilderness Awareness School. She told her son that she was worried about his plan but didn’t try to convince him not to go. In fact, he disappeared barely one year ago and he already became just another name on a list. The media often reports on such disappearances. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Still waiting for someone to find him. It became an obsession. An extremely alluring and appealing part of the Valley’s trekking experience. In 2008, Arizona woman Jodi Arias drove to her former boyfriend’s home and murdered him in cold blood, leaving behind overwhelming pieces of evidence. Missing trekkers have cast a shadow on Himachal Pradesh's booming tourism business A spate of missing trekkers (the latest being American national Justin Alexander Shetler) in the upper reaches of Himachal Pradesh has become a matter of acute … All in the name of his Search. 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. “There was a smile,” says Gapon, referring to the winking emoji Alexander used as punctuation at the end of his final blog post. Skeels and McElroy thought it was a strange coincidence the sadhu had supposedly killed himself days before his remand was set to expire, in a valley where the police make an effort to avoid drawing attention to the mysterious disappearances of tourists in their jurisdiction. “Eventually he pushed the limits a little too far.”. Alexander led Gapon to his cave, a four-foot-tall hollow hidden above the camp on a forested hillside. The majority of cases Mittal sees are the result of foreigners pushing themselves into increasingly dangerous situations, emotionally and physically, on some form of a spiritual quest. I’m going to put my heart into it and see what happens... Maybe Baba Life will be good for me.” In his gray daypack, Alexander packed a kilogram of rice, some oats, nuts, raisins, tea, sugar, and flour. But beneath Alexander’s glamorous tales was a person searching for higher meaning, sometimes at the expense of sensibility. The police effectively closed the case of Justin Alexander—just one more disappearance in the Parvati Valley. “I think he wanted to push himself even beyond his own norm, and it probably snowballed into doing things that were more and more risky,” McElroy says. our entire suite of free newsletters here. thank you for this. It was likely the first foreigner he’d met who had been living in the country long-term. 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. In Justin's own words, "If I’m not back by then, don’t look for me " The plentiful supply of cheap hash draws more and more tourists. Rawat sent the porter ahead to begin preparing food, Alexander followed, and Rawat held back because his knees were hurting. Staring down at some of Alexander’s unmistakable belongings—just 11 miles from where hundreds of backpackers gathered and reveled in tents at Khir Ganga—was a crushing moment. About the Self. Searching for the ever-elusive Truth about life. She boarded a plane to New Delhi on October 9, connecting with a friend of Alexander’s, Jonathan Skeels, en route in London. Lee remembers discussions with Alexander about whether he was selling his adventures, posting them online for an audience rather than fully living them. He was homeless for some time. A 26-year-old man reported missing over the weekend has been found safe. Justin Alexander Shetler is missing. “I think.”, Over his stay in the valley cave, Alexander’s curiosity in the sadhu way of life turned deeper. The mist fades, and Rawat appears through a cloud of smoke, in his hut, smoking a chillum. Even though it has been told by so many people before, all of whom better writers and journalists than me. 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