After braving the chilling climate of Delhi and 4 days of strenuous official work, I finally decided to take a weekend break and travel to the twin cities of Rishikesh & Haridwar to have a refreshing cultural & spiritual experience in these ancient places. The journey itself was nothing less than a sort of an adventure, reaching my destination in petty local transport somehow after being ditched by the bus service provider I had booked online, the chilling cold added to the woes as the temperature sunk to around 5 degrees in the night. But as it is said, 'to gain something you need to put in a lot of efforts'. My troublesome, adventurous journey did not go in vain as in the next two days I got to experience the most enlightening spiritual ambiance of the heart of what we have known as 'the cradle of the human race' or 'Mystique India'. Sadhus, gurus, temples, ashrams, humming sound of birds, monkeys, cows, ringing or clinging bells of the magnificent temples, prayers, diyas and havans, legends, myths and the Gods there was everything you have wished for, set in the lap of the foothills of the great Himalayas, the 'Shivalik' ranges, with the Ganges gently dissecting the valley, sunrise and sunset was the most gracious thing I could see. However my journey also revealed that the Ganga is drying up at many places owing to global warming and human misuse. Like the Red Indian chief John Hollow Horn quoted ''Someday the earth will weep, it will beg for her life, she will cry with tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you help her or let her die, and when she dies, you will also die''. The alarm is ringing, the clock is ticking and we need to act before it's too late. The Vedas teach us to love the nature, respect and preserve it, we pray to the mother earth before we set foot on the soil to ensure it's well being and our happiness, all our prayers go in vain if we do not understand the crux of the mantras we chant, we have to restore the glory and peace of the world with our actions also. So here goes my journey in pictures.
How to reach:
1) From Delhi (223 kms approx) - You can book a bus on red bus, be careful of fake bus service providers, north India is full of them. The best way is to book the Govt Volvos on redbus - UPSRTC or go to ISBT & book the buses, there are normal ST buses which leave from Delhi ISBT every 10-30 mins for Haridwar/Rishikesh & are available through out 24 hours. You can also hire a private car if you are travelling with family. Some hotels provide information & transport in Delhi for trips to Haridwar & Rishikesh
2) Haridwar-Rishikesh & back - You can hire a private car or there are share tempos which charge 40-50 bucks per seat for the 22 kms distance, you can pay for the entire tempo for 500 bucks and book it. Travelling by local transport is always a great experience and fun.
Things to visit:
1) Har ki Pouri Arati - It happens between 5-6.30 PM in the evening & 5.30-6.30 AM in the morning. The evening arati is the best
2) Different temples & ashrams in Haridwar
3) Ram Jhula & Laxman Jhula bridge in Rishikesh
4) Some beautiful temples, ashrams in Rishikesh & the Rudraksha tree
5) If you have sufficient time, you can enjoy the adventure sports like river rafting, fox flying etc. For this you need to take out half a day at least and travel up wards from Rishikesh. The adventure sports groups in Rishikesh arrange for everything, it happens for roughly 600-1000 bucks per person
6) Enjoy shopping in local markets
7) Chandi Devi & Mansa Devi temples via rope way