Route : Chandigarh-Dehradun-Rishikesh-Devparyag-Srinagar-Rudraparyag
Locations : Devparyag, Rudraparyag, Koteshwar Mahadev, Rishikesh, Neelkanth Mahadev
Famous For : Pilgrimage, Trekking
Best season : May – October
Life is too busy, it is essential that you spare sometime for yourself. Travel as much as you can, as far as you can, as long as you can. Life is not meant to be lived in one Place. So this journey of mine was a geological field trip with my Mentor, whom I was meeting for the first time on this trip. Before this journey I had so many things on my mind, if should I go or not, will it be fruitful or not, then I read somewhere “ You do not Travel if you are afraid of the Unknown, You travel for the Unknown, that reveals you within yourself ’’- ELLA MAILLART
I met my Mentor the day we started our journey. I was awestruck with her simplicity and humbleness. We stayed in the guest house of Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, for a night. The FRI campus is set in a lush green estate spread over 450 hectares, with the outer Himalaya forming its back drop. It’s main building is an impressive one having a fusion of Greco-Roman and Colonial styles of architecture. This building is also showed in the movie Mohabbatein as Gurukul. I went for a morning stroll in the campus and kept remembering Shahrukh khan and Amitabh Bachchan,especially the scene where they both used to pray during the time of sunrise. The whole campus is so peaceful and quite.
Then after taking breakfast we headed towards Srinagar where we stayed for the work.Then on our way I saw beautiful mountains and the river Ganga. The headwaters of the Ganges River begin high in the Himalayan Mountains where the Bhagirathi River flows out of the Gangotri Glacier.
The road distance from Rishikesh to Devprayag is 74 km (46 mi).
• Haridwar to Rishikesh 24 km
• Rishikesh to Devprayag 74 km
• Devprayag to Srinagar 34 km
• Srinagar to Rudraprayag 33 km
UTTRAKHAND-The history of Uttarakhand sings the glorious past of the territory. Uttarakhand has a long history of its genesis, and evolution, that highlights the great emperors, such as the Kushanas, Kudinas, Kanishka, Samudragupta, Katuria, Palas, Chandras and Pawaras.
Talking about the history of Uttarakhand, it can be said that Uttarakhand finds reference in many holy Hindu scriptures. But the history of Uttarakhand can be best understood through the history of Garhwal and Kumaon:The ancient history of Garhwal says that it had once been a part of the Mauryan Empire. The history of Kumaon can be traced back to the Stone Age.
Then as we headed towards Srinagar we reached Devparyag on the way in the afternoon. Devparyag is famous for the confluence of two holy rivers, the Bhagirathi rushing down from Gaumukh and Alaknanda from Alkapuri glacier. The two rivers meet here to form the holy river Ganga. But according to mythology, there is another river belong to this confluence named Saraswati which originates from Mana Village in Badrinath and in Devprayag, the river comes from the feet of Shri Raghunath Ji in Raghunath Temple. There are also footprints of Lord Rama that exist at "Ram Kunda". The place showers tourist with its serene and divine natural beauty and it is believed that Lord Rama and King Dushratha did penance here.
Devprayag is full of natural beauty. Other than Sangam and Raghunath Ji Temple in Devprayag, one can visit sacred places like Mata Bhuvneshwari temple and many more.
Then within next few days after completion of my field work, we visited Koteshwar Mahadev Temple.Koteshwar Temple is a consecrated town near Rudrparayag where renowned shrine of Lord Shiva is built along the Alakhnanada River. Koteshwar Mahadev Temple is located inside the Cave where Alakhnanda flows just few meters away. The view from the temple was so mesmerising that I could not believe my eyes. As per old sayings it is believed that Lord Shiva meditated here while he was travelling to Kedarnath. It was like a dream, totally like heaven on earth, so peaceful and pure. It was what dreams are made of. It’s the first time ever that I am short of words to describe the beauty of this heavenly place. I Meditated there and felt extremely rejuvenated.River Alaknanda was so pure and clear that I hesitated initially that it might becomes impure with my touch. But then I could not resist myself from touching it and I am glad I did, as it cleansed my soul . This was my favourite place of all, more so because there were not many people crowding this serene place.
Then we visited Rudraparyag , the town located at the site where river Alaknanda and the river Mandakini meet.The river from here then goes to Devparyag where is joins the Bhagirathi river and get its name as the river Ganga.It is one of the sacred confluences in Garhwal Uttrakhand and one of the most important of the PanchPrayags. The holy town is the junction for pilgrims visiting Chardham Yatra. From here routes separate to Badrinath , Kedarnath and Nagnath Pokhri. The town is well known for its amazing beauty. Legends believe that Lord Narad Muni performed intense penanace to please Lord Shiva in order to teach him the mysteries of music. Lord Shiva was pleased with him and appeared in his Rudra avatar. We can see pictures of Lord Narad with a Rudra garland around his neck and singing praises to Lord Shiva. So the place came to be known as Rudraparyag.
After lunch we started our journey back home and one thing I forgot to mention that our driver used to listen Gurbani all the time and I used to have my headphones on all the time playing Bollywood and Punjabi songs, but at this stage I also started liking Shabad Kirtan. Driver uncle said to me ‘’ putter ji apne phone te Sukhmani Saheb da path suneya karo”.
Rishikesh is one of the holiest cities in India, Rishikesh is a famous Hindu pilgrimage destination. Every year a huge number of people travel to Rishikesh in lure of piety.Rishikesh also serves as the gateway to other holy destinations in the Himalayas - Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Apart from the religious attractions, Yoga and adventure tourism has gained popularity in Rishikesh. Other than sightseeing, shopping forms an integral part of the itinerary of Rishikesh. An array of shops makes shopping in Rishikesh a memorable experience. No matter what the tourists are looking for, from wall paintings to garments, accessories and many more, there is something for everyone in the markets of Rishikesh.
We were in hurry to attend the Ganga Aarti at Parmarth ashram, Rishikesh. From the car window I witnessed the afternoon turning into evening, andthe sun finally merging and vanishing into the darkness of the night sky. As we entered in the Ashram, the atmosphere inside was so different that I don’t know what happened to me there, my eyes turned watery, something had touched my soul deep inside. The Ganga Aarti wasjust so magical. I loved the feeling of emptiness in my mind. No thought was distracting me in that divine place.
We stayed there in the Parmarth Ashram for the night and took a dip inthe cold Ganga water. The next morning also, I felt the urge to take a dip in Ganga again before we left. I saw many people worshiping and doing Yoga early in that perfect soothing morning.
We then headed towards Neelkanth Mahadev after breakfast. The way to the temple is quite exhilarating. One should drive carefully on the steep, narrow and curvey roads to Neelkanth Mahadev Temple,with the river flowing on one side and mountain on the other. The Mythological tales say that 'Neelkanth Mahadev Temple' is the sacred location where Lord Shiva consumed venom from the ocean and his throat turned blue. The temple was established to pay regards to him. The temple has an ancient architecture and a beautiful complex, comprising of a natural spring where devotees take holy bath before entering the premises of the temple. Above the entrance door, scenes from mythology story of Samudra Manthan are carved with sculptures of Gods and Demons. The walls show the entire story of the Manthan. Inner temple complex is equally divine and beautiful. The sacred Shivlinga is situated in this holy shrine. Devotees tie sacred thread on the gigantic Peepal tree and makes a wish. They offers milk, Bael leaves, coconut, flower etc. to the Shivlinga. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple houses a 'Shiv Lingam', the idol of the presiding deity in a phallic form. There is a special aura about the temple, which fills devotional hearts with celestial pleasure. Devotees visit Neelkanth Mahadev temple to seek Moksha, Solitude and Peace of mind. Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is surrounded by dense forest and is situated above a hill.