While we’ve been semi-lazy about travelling, I’ve been beyond lazy blogging. Soooo, my hypothetical fans, I’m back with another little experience into the mystical Rishikesh.
I don’t think this little jewel really needs an introduction. Nestled in the foothills of the lofty Himalayas, home to the mystical Ganga, and as ethereal as a crowded little town can ever get. The moment you enter the city, you’re going to be fairly eager to see Her. The ribbon of water that drives one of the largest religions in the world.
Word to the wise, take a breather because it’s going to take a bit of navigating through the small streets and bustling traffic before you actually break through to the view of a lifetime. Once you’re there though, you can feel the entire world simply melting away as you start blending in with the slow, cool surroundings.
We were lucky enough to bag a great room at the Ganga Beach Resort run by the Garhwal Mandal, a government run organization, for promoting the state of Uttarakhand. Right outside our room, the river noisily and busily made her way to other parts of the country and we could only stand there in awe of her beauty.
Clear, cold water that entertains thrill seekers, soothes troubled minds, and carries the willing onto their final journey to their maker.
There’s a fair bit to do in Rishikesh if you’re there for a long weekend. You can attend the daily evening aarti for starters.
You can also opt for long yoga classes, buy little diyas to set afloat in the river, and buy trinkets off the street side vendors.
Meat lovers will have a bit of a toughie since you won’t get any meat in the entire city but the vegetarian food is served hot and with love. There’s just no way you can say no to that goodness, especially if you’re gorging at the famous Chotiwala restaurant.
Taking long walks along the riverbanks and the surrounding forests is also a wonderful way to spend your time there. However, do remember to pack sensible shoes or you will end up paying choosing style (like yours truly!) over sensibility.
We visited the abandoned Beatles Ashram, famous for a particular band that had called it home on their trip to India. Any wild guesses on which band it was? The entire site is full of haunting buildings in various states of disrepair, overgrown and rundown.
You don’t need to work too hard to dodge the elephant poo dotting the streets. It usually piles up to a fair bit of space so you gotta be literally blind to be stepping into it!
The ashram is known for its lush greenery, its dark caves, and absolutely GORGEOUS graffiti. There’s a wee bit of a slope here so if you’re out of shape, you (and the entire world) will know about it pretty soon. (Yes, I huffed and puffed my way up too. And if you see the way I demolish a cake, you’d know why…)
Since you are going to be walking around the place, remember to cross over using the little ferries as well as the two suspension bridges, Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula. If you’re not a fan of heights, water or wobbly bridges hanging high over the water, here’s your chance to face your fears and what nots. Interesting story, Lakshman was once meditating on the banks of the Ganga and she (being portrayed as a mischievous child) kept coming up to disturb him. Chortling loudly, splashing him, wetting his toes… Despite repeated requests when she doesn’t desist, he angrily curses her into silence for a long-ish stretch. If you are to look closely between these bridges, the water is not just calm, it is also quieter than a baby’s whisper.
Any other place, she’s her usual giggly, gurgly, cheerful self.
It’s never easy leaving the fresh sunrises, the chilly waters, and minute beaches of Rishikesh but somedays (when salary runs low and the world beckons), you have to pack your bags and bid adieu to this little holy town, promising to return soon.
PS: If you believe spirituality involves near death experiences, you could try a hand at white water rafting and bungee jumping.
PPS: I fell in love with the Ganga aarti here. See if you like it as ridiculously as me.
PPPS: Mr. Jobs has been an angel by giving us the little phone that rescues ridiculously amateurish photographers (c’est moi).