A weekend in Rishikesh.

2nd Oct 2015

So the trip started at 10pm on a Friday night from Kashmiri Gate, Delhi.

I, my ex-roommate and my current roommate were all excited about the impromptu trip that we planned. After a 7 hours of a bumpy bus ride we reached the Rishikesh bus stand early in the morning. The sky was three shades blue, the air was fresh, our minds were awake and our souls were calmly waiting for the city to work its magic on them.

We had booked a room in Ganga Vatika guest house from AirBnb. I was the one who chose it, so I kept my fingers crossed that it doesn't turn out to be a massive disappointment. But as the autowala took those not so quiet turns in a tranquil setting, I had a feeling that we're going to have a beauuuuutiful window view.

Ganga Vatika are apartments owned and let out by monks from all across the world. They come and practice brahmachariya with the scents of burning sandal and ghee.

At 8:30am, we changed into our adventure gear(a pair of shorts, shoes and a t-shirt that is) we head towards the office of Red Chilli Adventures who'd help us raft in the gushing water of the mighty Ganga. The local commute is really cheap and the shared autos will drop you to Lakshman Jhoola, Tapovan & RamJhoola in anywhere around 10-30 rupees per person.

I, for one don't know how to swim and fortunately got a guide who'd just throw me in water just for the fun of it. I gasped but, still enjoyed being helpless in water. That's fear of water; conquered I'd say. And when you're in ice cold water with a view of majestic mountains around, all you can think of 'here'. You let yourself just be. That's what water does to you. It lets you be as you are.

After a tiring morning and making a few new friends we had lunch at a local restaurant called Tattva that served almost everything. As soon as we hit the bed we dozed off and woke up just to grab a bite from the freshly made organic food at the guest house. We shared the apartment with a couple from Isreal, who were here for a Yoga course. While you are at Ganga Vatika, make sure you ask them to give you a tour of their temple.

Next morning we shopped a while on our way to Laksham Jhoola. The view from over the swinging bridge is one to die for. You can find small staircases as well to climb down to the stream and sit quietly for a while.

We hired an auto to drive us to Haridwar for 600 bucks(No bargaining done here). It is hardly a one hour drive so we made it just on time to see the aarti that starts at 6:45pm. But, make sure that you reach their an hour early to have an unobstructed view(huge crowd there).

As we roamed around eating Rabri in the Har Ki Pouri, we seemed to have misjudged the place to have booked a bus that leaves at 10:4pm. By 8:30 pm we were the only 3 girls in the streets of Haridwar. We went and sat at a local CCD where we enquired about the bus stand and the way of commute to the same. We sat in a rickshaw, my friends in the front and I was in the back seat. The town felt so slow, with men all around. People were shutting their shops at 9:30pm and we had to ride in a rickshaw to a (what felt to me) stranded bus stand. The entire trip started feeling like a big mistake. I started blaiming myself for pestering my friends into it.

When the rickshawwala halted, I could see 3 people across the road with backpacks and wished they were going via the same bus back to Delhi. To our luck, they were. We decided to sit by a small Khokha (A cigarette store) which was the only store with lights on. Many a drunk men stopped there to have a smoke. The way they looked at us is unexplaninable. We started questioning the intentions of everyone who spoke to us.

We called up the bus authorities and they didn't pick up our calls and switched off their phones after a while. After waiting for the bus for the next 2 hours. I called up a friend who stayed in Dehradun, 2 hours drive from where we were to tell me what to do next. He advised to go and sit at the station which was 1 km from Rishi Kul(where we were). But, the cab drivers seemed to have slept by then. We convinced the 3 others to come with us to the station. Now we were walking on a quiet road when a auto stopped by us. He told us to sit inside and he'll drop us to the station. I had my doubts about the idea but, sat anyways.

I came back to life after seeing the railway station. That was I think the first time in my life when I didn't mind a crowded place.

I enquired about the trains to Delhi from the friend of mine as the locals seem to have no clue of what I was saying. There were no tickets available and no seats available in the trains as well for us to be seated.

That seemed to be our unlucky day with a train changing it's route and deciding not to go to Delhi. All of us sat on a floor and most of us slept off. With a zillion things and office going on in my mind, I couldn't sleep.

I made friends with the Chaiwala who was offering me free refills. I guess he thought of me as a wreck as I was definitely looking like one. Talking to the officials was also a task as they seemed to be ignorant. Finally at 6:20am, we boarded the Jan Shatabdi back to Delhi paying double the fare.

We laughed about the trip and thanked the good lord that it was over.

After all said and done, it was the most memorable trip of our lives.

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