Rishikesh

 PC-Divyesh Patel

"Sir, Should I take you to the other side of the Laxman Jhula?", the taxi driver asked me. I looked at the Google maps and remembered what my friend had told. "Do not take the taxi to the opposite side of the bridge, it is a longer route". I therefore asked him to drop me at the Laxman Jhula entry point. I did not  want to disappoint him any further. 

Earlier, I had deviated him from his shortcut and directed him to cross the Ram Jhula to reach my Hostel. The Google maps said so because it had picked the bike route as default. The driver had told me repeatedly that cars are not allowed to cross Ram Jhula. Realising my mistake, I requested him to head back to Laxman Jhula. If it had been a driver in Bangalore, he would have rudely argued with me and demanded extra money. I was impressed by the politeness of the people here. Moreover, all these Jhulas (Hanging bridges) were only in my imagination as I was traveling to Rishikesh for the first time. 


My early morning flight from Bangalore to Delhi, and then to Dehradun was on time and uneventful. By the time I reached Dehradun on Friday, the 8th of October, it was 2PM. Initially, I had planned to take a public transport to Rishikesh. But, the long journey had worn me out already. So, I decided to take a taxi. Rishikesh is located 15 km from Dehradun airport. That is nearer than the city of Dehradun, which is around 40km from the airport. I showed my Uttarakhand smart city entry pass and my RT-PCR test report to the authorities outside the airport. They took a carless glance at it and allowed me to exit.


The pre-paid taxi counters at the airport are generally expensive. Step out of the airport and cross the road to reach a Pre-paid taxi counter near the parking lot. They will take you to Rishikesh at Rs 880. It would be a great idea to pool the ride with other passengers heading there. 


I boarded a taxi and headed to Rishikesh. I was expecting it to be cold up there, but it was surprisingly very hot. We passed by a forest and reached the busy streets of Rishikesh city center. The main attractions are situated around 4-5 kms from the main city. 


My driver dropped me at Laxman Jhula parking lot where a barricade stops cars from driving any further. Early in the morning, cars can come up to Laxman chowk which is just 100 mts away. I thanked my driver and followed the maps to my hostel. The place was crowded with shops and people. 


Almost every shop appeared to be selling similar products. There were similar cotton Kurtas, pants, shawls, Malas (Chains) made of Rudraksh and other unknown beads. Some sold a kind of metal bowl/musical instruments meant to bring good luck and peace of mind. The shopkeepers put on a peaceful expression on their faces and occasionally played it to attract customers. 


I took the stairs down to Laxman Jhula; crossed the bridge and after a few misses, found the alley that leads to my hostel - Gostops. 


My friend, Divyesh had booked the hostel - A brand new one on this side of the bridge. They do have another one at Tapovan side of the area. The location though was so high up the hill that I felt like my trek had already begun by the time I started climbing up to my hostel. 


I was meeting Divyesh after 2 years and it is always a great feeling to reunite with friends you have made on road. After we were done with our catching up, I tasted some Gujrati Theplas and Bakhris with tasty mango chunda, that he had got from his house. Needless to say that they were delicious. Jains always carry these food items due to their strict diet (No onions and garlics). These dishes are specially prepared without a drop of water, so that they last for several days; if not months. 


We stepped out in the evening. It was crowded outside. We sat by the river Ganges at Saraswati Ghat, opposite Tryambakeshwar temple. At this Ghat, there is absolutely no crowd and it is a perfect place to enjoy the views. At 6:30PM we watched the Arathi at the temple on the other side. It is at that moment, by the Ganges, that I fell in love with Rishikesh; with the peaceful vibe it emanated. 



For dinner, we walked to Tattv Cafe. Tattv cafe became one of our favorite cafes in town by the time we left. It has a great ambience and the food is descent. The service is quick and the staff are friendly. Try out their Avocado sandwich.


By the time we retuned, Laxman Jhula was all lit but still crowded. However, there was room for everyone. Cold wind blew heavily and the bridge swayed with it. It was a perfect time for some pictures. 


On our way back, we stopped at Agarwal sweet shop. When we were asking the name of one of the displayed sweets, the shopkeeper embarrassingly replied that they had opened the shop that very day and he was yet to get accustomed with the names. He offered the sweet for free, for tasting. It was delicious, so we ordered more of it. After that tasty dessert, it was time to hit the bed.


Next morning (9th October), I woke up early and stepped out for some tea. I found an excellent tea vendor by the Ghat. Tea is served in paper cups, glass or mud cups called "Kullad". The flavour of fresh mud enhanced the taste of the special herbal tea he had prepared. 


I sat by the Ganges and relaxed for a while. It was one of the most serene moments of my life. I did not want to leave. At dawn, Rishikesh is almost empty - of people and noise and by the river, the birds fly by to feed on fishes and other insects. 


At hostel, Divyesh and I played badminton for a while. I had some tasty aloo paratha and lassi for breakfast at a dhaba across the main street. Around noon, we decided to go to the 13 floored Tryambakeshwar temple. 


I am not going to lie. This temple looked like a museum of Indian Gods. Each floor had several rooms with white tiled walls and each room had a particular deity displayed at the center; like artefacts in a museum. The view from the top was spectacular though. 


After that tiring climb of 13 floors, we headed to Freedom cafe for lunch; another popular cafe in town. 


There are places to see and things to do in Rishikesh. You could visit the waterfalls, do some river rafting etc. But, those did not interest us. We chose to relax in a cafe or by the river and absorb in the serenity of this place. 


At 4pm we walked from Laxman Jhula to Ram Jhula through some interior roads. We stopped at Ganga beach for a while. This is a nice place to sit and relax, or take a swim in the river. 


At Ram Jhula, we enquired about Ganga Arathi (Ganga river worship) It apparently happens at an Ashram called Parmarth. We headed there. Prayers and Bhajans were in progress. We found ourselves a nice spot and watched the event, and then the Arathi


After Arathi, we headed to the Ghat (River bank) and relaxed for a bit. The Ghats next to Parmarth is one of the best places to silently sit and watch the river flow by. 


For dinner, we went back to Tattv. At hostel, we chatted with our dorm-mates from Gurugram. I stepped out at night to meet our fellow trekker Mithul who was staying close by. Next day, we had to leave early - To Lohajung.


The plan was to return back to Rishikesh and spend another day here after the trek. I looked forward to that as well, as I was already in love with this place. 


CONTINUED HERE - Rishikesh To Lohajung


Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the photos. Reading your post brought back lot of memories. Been there long long time ago. Looks like modernized a lot by now.

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    Replies
    1. I suppose. Pulls in a young crowd who want to go river rafting or relax in the cafes. But the ambiance at the ghats, I believe is still untouched.

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  2. I have been here, seven or eight years ago. Nice place. The post brought back memories.

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  3. Listening to the Ganges flow always has a therapeutic effect on me... especially at Rishikesh and the higher locations...

    Need to revisit these places :)

    ReplyDelete

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