Haridwar-Rishikesh (India)

We had spent our days well among the hills and the mist of Uttarakhand and now it was time for us to descend to the plains once again, this time to Haridwar, one of the holiest places of India that all devoted Hindus visit once in their life time.

This is considered to be the place where the river Ganga enters the plain which we all know geographically as the ‘gangetic plain.’ Har ki Pauri is the main spot where every evening gets turned to a land of lights with both the banks of the river being lit up and thousands of devotees gathering around, taking part in the aarti (evening prayers) by either taking a dip to clean away all the sins or floating diyas (earthen lamps) on the river with all their prayers and wishes to the mighty Ganges. Quite a beautiful scene actually!!

The same Ganga takes a totally different turn when it reaches Rishikesh. Following the river, we reached there too.

Rishikesh is actually a combination of religious, spiritual and sporting activities. As we reached the city, the first site that greeted us was the Ram Jhoola, a suspension bridge swinging above the beautiful river. We have walked on these kinds of bridges earlier, but a walk on this was a bit scary at the first time mainly because of the vast river down below. The view of the river from the bridge is just mind boggling…on a clear sunny day, the blue sky, the green forests and the Ganga meandering away almost in the horizon was just awesome!! A little ahead where Laxman is believed to have crossed the river is the Laxman Jhoola, another bridge of the same kind, but a less scary one.

Even though we aren’t the adventurous sporting types, we have gone and climbed up peaks in New Zealand to experience skiing. This time it was river rafting. Rishikesh is famous worldwide for its white water rafting on the rapids of Ganga, interestingly named as golf course, three blind mice, roller coaster etc and graded as one to six depending on the ease with which they can be negotiated. We certainly didn’t want to miss out being a part of this thrilling sport. So off we went for a cliff from where we could see the most dangerous rapids on the river. On its way to the plains, the river naturally slows down and then breaks into whitewater rapids as it flows down the plain. We watched how boats full of rafters tried to tame the wild waters while being tossed up and down and then actually being thrown into the water by overturning the boat…..it was really an amazing sight. For those looking for a far more relaxing weekend, have Ananda, the luxurious spa far away in the hills of Narendra Nagar and built around the palace of the former Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal.

Our holiday to Uttarakhand was over and it was time to return to our abode of chaos and noise and cherish the memories of serenity that we experienced for a while.