The colossal mountains standing tall in the backdrop with the turquoise blue waters gushing beneath. This place situated in foothills of Himalayas is a mini heaven on Earth and is considered as the starting point of chaar dham yatra namely Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri. The place with innumerable temples and sadhus. This is Rishikesh.
We started from Patiala at 9:30 am, and sat awestruck by what the road had to offer. Rows of trees touched the sky, making shadows on the path ahead, sieving the sunlight that reached us in bits.
We reached Rishikesh at 4:30 pm and headed for Madhuban Ashram located in Muni ki Reti, Haridwar Road.
We were really keen to see the famous ganga aarti that is performed in all its glory at Parmarth Niketan in the evenings at sunset. It was an amazing sight to behold, devotees holding diyas and chanting fascinating mantras in total ecstasy. Later they placed them on the holy waters of Ganga which carried them to an unknown destination. After that, we returned to the Madhuban Ashram and saw the Sandhya aarti in ISKCON temple. We then ate delicious prashadam at the Govind ji Restaurant.
Attending Mangal aarti performed in the temple at 5:00 am was an extremely exhilarating experience. The exalted devotees were singing the name of Lord with abounding faith embedded in their hearts. In the peaceful periphery of the temple, I sat gaping at picturesque view of the black mountains silver lined by the moonlight. There was a certain chill in the air and I was really looking forward to sunrise which was sure to change the scenery in a matter of minutes.
At around 8:00 am, we had a sumptuous breakfast at the restaurant and set off for the famous Lakshman Jhoola. We opted for a Tempo to take us there, who journeyed us along a narrow road and halted where the vehicles were prohibited. There we met an amiable guide who narrated the glories of temples around the place. He took us through slippery stairs downhill, through thin steep roads and colorful streets with a variety of shops selling clothes, jute items, bags, jewelry, Rudraksha and sphatick necklaces on both sides . There were eating joints, spas and yoga classes too. We went into one of the shops where shopkeeper told us about the importance of one face Rudraksha , which is said to be the embodiment of Mahadev ! He told us how the touching the surface of sphatick (glacier stone) can instantly relieve us from anger.
And finally, we reached Lakhsman Jhoola. It joins the opposite banks of River Ganga and is swarmed by a variety of people who wish to cross the river while breathing in the fresh air and being enraptured by the magical surroundings. After crossing the bridge we were in for a long walk in the lap of nature that took us to another bridge namely Ram Jhoola.
After having lunch at about 12:30 pm, we reluctantly toured back to Patiala. We left a part of us there for we yearned to visit the place soon.
What Rishikesh does for traveler struck with wanderlust is to make him fall in love with the heavenly waters and the peaceful spiritual atmosphere.