Moscow, Jan 25: Devout Krishnaite Vladimir Komaritskikh of Voskresensk in Moscow will traverse 6,500 kilometres from the town to Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, in honour of the Year of Russia in India.
Komaritskikh, a construction engineer, will set out in late February and hopes to reach his destination in eight months. A hiker since childhood, he thinks travelling on foot is not a mere athletic pastime but a 'philosophy of motion'. ''Walking helps you to reappraise your behaviour, repent evil thoughts and willing or unwilling wrongs, stay eye-to-eye with the Lord and feel at one with the universe,'' said the 56-year-old.
Komaritskikh"s itinerary crosses Siberia, Central Asia and eleven Himalayan passes. He is eager to get to India before Karttika (October and November in the Christian calendar) as he intends a pilgrimage to the holy places of Lord Krishna-Mayapur, Vrindavan and Puri, RIA Novosti said.
However, he is not sure of his return to Russia. ''I will walk back if I feel strong enough,'' he said adding that he hoped to find followers in India.
''At least one enthusiast might be found among the many millions of Indians who would repeat my itinerary the other way round, from India to Russia. He can dedicate his venture to the Year of India in Russia, set for 2009,'' he said.
Komaritskikh, whose sacred name is Vatsapal Das, is trained in Vedic vegetarian cooking and is considered a fine chef by his fellow believers.
He has walked more than 10,000 km since he joined the Vaishnava community. One of his routes stretched from Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea to the Chukchi Peninsula across a narrow strait in Alaska. Others were from north to south. All told, he has made 15 journeys on foot totalling 32,000 km, the agency said.
''I have invented a gait all my own. It saves energy, so I never tire of long journeys with a knapsack,'' he said, adding that he lived a monastic life spending two hours reciting ''holy names on my beads.'' ''Years on foot taught me to put up with hardships, bad weather, harsh words, depression and ailments, to say nothing of merger savings. As I travel, I walk to the Lord like the five Pandava Brothers in the Mahabharata,'' he added.