Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!!

31st Jan 2015

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It was a fine afternoon that I was getting bored with mundane life of mine. I was scrolling through the movie list to kill time when I came across 'Into the Wild'. It starts with beautiful glassy brown-tone track 'Guaranteed' by Eddie Vedder. I instantly fell in love with the plucking of strings. As the movie was flowing I was being flown with it. The movie is about a boy from a wealthy family with a degree and a future ahead of him but, instead he chooses to give his savings to charity, rid himself of his possessions, and set out on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness. That movie will surely take you by thunder.

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! 1/1 by Aman Sharma
How beautiful it'll be if you see what I see Now!!

The impact was so much that I didn't even thought for second time and booked ticket for Delhi. I didn't knew where will I go and with whom will I go with, but one thing was surely lurking in my mind "Self Exploration" . I have never been a hodophile, but suddenly fernweh was all over me.

January 28 : I reached Delhi. I made a call to an old school friend who was willing to come with me on this unplanned sojourn. There we planned that we'll go to Rishikesh. There, I hopped on a train to Meerut (Rs 60 - General ) to meet him. Staying in Meerut for night we left for Rishikesh taking a bus from Meerut, which you'll find every half n hour or so (Rs 320 - UPRTC). It took 6hours to reach Rishikesh from there, the journey was beautiful with cool winter breeze and even UPRTC bus was very much comfy for the drive :p

Day 2


Photo of Tapovan, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma

The time we were in Rishikesh was off season for the much looked upon tourist place. We Indians mostly don't travel to north during winters, but it was the wanderlust that took me to the place much vacant during that time of year. You would mostly find aborigines, hippies, saints and all kind of different people there looking for peace.

Reaching Rishikesh bus stand, we gave a call to one of our contact and he told us to come further to Tapovan. Tapovan is a small town 8kms from Rishikesh. The auto dropped us at Laxman Jhula. i I didn't wanted to stay in hotel or something, I came here to be in the wilderness, so I chose to live in it and experience it. We told him that we want to stay in Riverside camp, but he insisted to stay in hotel as these camps are normally unpopulated at this point of time. Anyways we booked a camp.

During the season time it would have costed us 3500/person or even more, but we managed to book the camp for 1700/person which included night stay at riverside camp, bon fire, rafting, snacks, dinner and breakfast. We headed towards the camp then.

It was at Shivpuri, further 12km from Tapovan, we were told to book a cab from there which would have costed us like 500bucks but the camp manager was kind enough to allow us in the Jeep that was on the way to camp for running errands.

This was the first snap we took at camp!! ( with Prakshaya Dixit )

Photo of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma

Camp Area, 5:00pm : The result of off season was that we were the only two to board the camp and there were 30 more tents, so we got to choose our favourite tent and we did. The most cozy one!! :D We helped ourselves to get extra quilt and pillows from the next tent as they were vacant.

After settling our bags at the tent and taking a full 360 view of the picturesque landscape that we were in, we decided to take a walk around the place, in whatever day light we are left with. We had to cross river on our foot to reach other side and it was thrilling. Ganges at it's best. There were other camps, almost as unpopulated as ours, so the workers there were enjoying a game of volleyball near the river. We saw some camps which had personal beaches too, unlike others for which it was all common. Perk of coming during off season was we although had a common beach but it was our own personal beach for the time :D We clicked some pictures there, sat in the tranquility by the river watching the horizon change in mountain which I absolutely love.

~We all live under the same sky, but not all have the same horizon.

Photo of Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh, India by Aman Sharma

~By the Riverside.

Photo of Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh, India by Aman Sharma

'Sunsets are so beautiful as that they almost seems as we were looking through gates of heaven' ~John Lubbock.

With the evening came the sunset that I could have watched all my life..I am not being poetic, it's just that I just love sunsets and sunrise; like who doesn't :D After roaming around we were back at the tent to see steaming hot cup of chai just waiting to be sipped. Oh what a feeling it was to sit near Ganges and taking sips of tea, talking of childhood memories with an old friend!! Absolutely priceless!!

~Let those get away with fireflies!!

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma

After sitting there for a while, although we were two, we were to enjoy bon-fire riverside, which was purely ecstatic. We saw they had arrangement of doing bonfire for like 50 people or so, but for now it was just two of us. We didn't talked much, Prakshaya plugged in his earphones and I just sat there enjoying the sound of the river. After a while, we were given snacks which included Peanut masala and masala papad. Short time after that we had a delicious dinner. Having our stomach full Prakshaya went to directly to tent to sleep, and I thought of taking a walk on beach.

It is blur but still yum!!

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma

I just can't go to bed this early in a place like this, so instead I went to the kitchen uphill where the camp coordinators were having there dinner and talked with them for a while. It was so much fun to talk to them that even after dinner we all sat beside bonfire to talk about their experience. They told me all about running the camp, about their village 'Garhwal' and about the Uttarakhand disaster that happened some time before, how they helped government using their rafts to take out bodies from up roaring Ganga and helping in crossing the river as it was nearly impossible to cross it in other ways; all the bridges were gone...life smashed in once.

He also told me about how wild Elephants come to camps sometimes..though they never have harmed anyone but they do have their fun in running over a tent or two...!! Though the river is giant one and deep to but these mammals are excellent swimmers, so we were told to sleep cautiously and keep our eyes open. Mostly these animals come out of jungle when their lives are disturbed by loud music, which recently have been banned in the camps after sunset. After listening to all those stories that I still remember word by word, I headed towards my camp to take a nap coz tomorrow was the big day : RAFTING!!! :D

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Day 3
Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma

We were up early instead of the fact that I was up late last night. Hot water was present there in camps but I wanted to take a dip in running Ganges. Believe me, it's nothing like taking a dip in Haridwar at Har ki Podi.. it was very much different from what I thought it would be..We were advised to take bath early...coz as the sun comes up, the fresh ice melts which carries chilled water with it through the mountains. So as early, as good!! We took bath and then clicked some pictures of near river and got all set for the next thing : Rafting!!! See, I don't know how to swim and have pretty bad past experiences with it, so it was quite frightening for me to be in middle of Ganga with all it's beauty in a floating raft.

And then we were taken to the pilot point "Marine Drive" where we left all our things in the bag which was to be taken by the jeep, and we just took our mobile phones and our wallet which later the instructor kept in the water proof bag tucked in raft.

Our course was 16km which included 9 rapids. {Rapids are sections of a river where the river bed has a relatively steep gradient, causing an increase in water velocity and turbulence. Rapids are hydrological features between a run (a smoothly flowing part of a stream) and a cascade.}

These rapids actually had names, each one of them, which were kept by Sir Edmund Hilary when he took on the course himself on a kayak starting from Garhwal region (Gangotri Glacier). And the names were kept like in one rapid he dropped his cash and named it cashflow, the other one felt like roller-coaster and the name stayed. One was return to sender where water after hitting the rock came again and made a whirlpool at centre of the course and you can actually feel it :D

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma

The raft was actually for 20 people, but we were only 4 (Me, Prakshaya, 2 instructors), so the raft was quite light, but it shouldn't have coz lighter jumps more :P We didn't saw any Indians around, we were the only one I think. Anyways we started our rafting from marine drive, the instructor taught us some basic instructions like 'row forward' 'row backward' 'bend over' etc...We were on our way now!! He asked if I can listen the roar, oh it was loud!! The roar was nothing but our first rapid 'return to sender' (level 3), we were actually stunned when we got over that, continuous paddling, chilled water, water all around, Har Har Gange and we were to our next and next and next rapid :D I jumped in middle of river though I can't swim but god it was thrilling. We stopped at Maggi point, this is the point where you can stop and enjoy hot maggi and chai. this is also the point for cliff jumping.

The rafting ends at Laxman jhula, after which we were about to do the next big thing : BUNGEE JUMPING!!!! Pure adrenaline rush baby!!! :D

The rafting ended by 1:30pm and last bus for bungee site was at 2pm, so we quickly just changed our clothes and boarded the bus wet-headed. The bungee was for Rs 3500 and 300 for bus.

Before reaching at the site only we saw 'the jumpers shouting and screaming jumping from the cliff that was 100mtrs above the ground' from bus window. I started having second thoughts on whether to go for it or not!! :D

Anyways we were weigh'd and mine came out to be 74kgs :D I was fat :P and were told to sign the risk form which clearly stated that knowing that all the precautions have been taken, still it's a risk to jump and we are solely responsible if something happens to us. quite interesting ryt!! :D

We walked to the site where I was 4th in the line to jump and was very intensively watching the other ones to go and jump. It was mine turn now to jump, they again weigh'd me and started putting harness and straps on me talking me through the process, Prakshaya was next to jump. There were these small speakers that played song and we wished that they had 'Stairway to heaven' which could have been perfectly soothing for our bursting heart beats which were at 300ft above the ground on a platform that was all shaking. I was about to make the highest jump in India and I was totally blank at that time!!

Then, there I was, standing at the edge of the platform, aiming for the mountain in front, exactly I was told, about to jump 100mts just with a rope tied and with a million thoughts now that were running through my mind.


Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma

And I jumped.....Man this I can't explain what it felt to just let it go!! Pure adrenaline rush!! The beauty of having no control over things...Free Falling...!! It was pure joy!!

The 4minutes that I kept swinging from that rope was just awesome!!

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma

After bungee we all were discussing about the jump where I met these two guys - Adarsh and Ketan. That day only Prakshaya was leaving, so I made a plan with them to go on a day tour to Mussoorie. We exchanged our number and planned a place to meet in morning. After that I went to look for a place to stay. I spotted a decent looking hotel and went in to ask price. The manager was an old man and asked for Rs 800 a night, but as I was alone I gave my 'student hoon uncle' wala funda and managed to get the room for Rs 250. Yeah that's correct :D 250 !! That too with a cozy double bed, room service, hot water, TV n all :D I read my novel for a while, went all over again the day in my head and went to sleep.

Now, we booked Indica with an awesome driver for a day for Rs 3500, which included roaming around Mussoorie, Dhanaulti, Kanatal, Dehradoon and back to Tapovan.

Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma

The drive was awesome as we were climbing one mountain and then other, stopping in between for taking pictures, I have taken so many that I can't even share all of those here..The most awesome view which I witnessed was the glance of the mighty Himalayas..!!

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma

We didn't had proper equipment to do justice with the view, but we managed to steal a memory..!! The drive was going awesome, with the music of 'Roy' and stories of our driver of how he had been to all the dangerous roads taking all sort of people he was telling about..It was fun listening him...!! We stopped at places to have chai, snacks n all!!

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma
Photo of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma

We traveled all from Dhanaulti to kanatal to Mussoorie. Reaching mussorie we took a pass to Gun hill point and stayed there for a while before realizing that Mussoorie is not what I came for, it was the road that I enjoyed more. Mussoorie is fully commercialized places meant only for honeymoon couples and family, personally I was little disappointed with the place. After being there we decided to roam around in Library bazaar, which I found was quite nice. You can get nice woolen clothes there at very cheap prices from Tibetian vendors. We had lunch at "Uphar" and then roamed around bazar for a while. Our plan was to visit Kempty falls, but we were a little late for it.

Photo of Rishikesh - The serendipity, Adventure and Wanderlust!! by Aman Sharma

So we decided to head back to Rishikesh. In our way back we stopped at Dehradoon for some snacks and then were back at Rishikesh.

There I said Bye to both of them and again went to same uncle to stay the night.

In morning I woke up early again, for famous morning Ganga aarti, which anyways I missed, but was informed that I could attend the evening aarti. As I was alone and had nothing to do, so I thought of just sitting by the bank of Ganges. The serenity of the river, the chanting of the morning prayers, people starting there day by chanting Har Har Gange!! It was all so peaceful to witness!! Just to be in that moment felt so good!! All by myself I was so contained, I couldn't tell!!

Photo of Tapovan, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma
Photo of Tapovan, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma
Photo of Tapovan, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India by Aman Sharma

I clicked some pictures there and went on to take the city tour for rest of the day. I always heard about this place german bakery and wanted to go, finally I had chance to go there. There I had my latte and au-gratin (a fancy dish that I wanted to have), and then left to unravel the rest of the city. Alcohol is banned in city, but you'll often find foreigners and sadhu baba taking a puff of Bhole baba's prasad in streets. I visited more cafes and book shops in the city roaming around.

I stayed there for two more days, just to be in that moment, to live the city as it is. What days were those!!


"If you are young and fit..hungry to learn and be better..I urge you to travel - as far and as widely as possible!! Travel when you can."