A memorable trip on bike to rediscover myself in the foothills of Himalayas – Part III

I came to Rishikesh only for a day, but stayed for three more days. During those three days, sometimes I went for a long walk in the hills or explored unknown places in bike. But most of my time, I spent on the banks of the river only. The atmosphere was so peaceful that you forgot everything around you. The water is so clean that you if you drop a coin, you can actually pick-up the same without any difficulty.  I also had the experience to ride through the Lakshman Jhula bridge multiple times during those three days.

Walk in the forest

October 6, 2000 – A trip to Nilkanth

On 6th, I went to Nilkanth Mahadev Temple, which is approx. 25-30 kms from Rishikesh. I had no experience to ride in the hills and the road was just good for a bike to pass through, I thought. However, few cars on the way gave me some encouragement and finally reached within 2 hours. The road to the temple is surrounded by dense forests, beautiful valleys and river on your left side. The views are breathtaking. The entire journey is a pleasure to your eyes and it was my first riding experience in the mountains, as well as its’ beautiful valleys. So, you can understand my feelings.

Towards Nilkanth

According to Hindu mythology, the place where the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple currently stands is the sacred location where Lord Shiva consumed the poison, that originated from the sea during Samudramanthan, when Gods and Demons churned the sea in order to obtain Amrita. Immediately due to this effect, his throat became blue in color. Thus, Lord Shiva is also known as Nilkanth, literally meaning The Blue Throated One. This place became one of the scared pilgrim places in India. Thousands of devotees came to see the Nilkanth Mahadev.

October 7, 2000 – My return journey 

I only had two days left now. It was time to return to my cage. As I was carrying everything along with me in my bag,  thought to return via Dehradun which is approx 45 km from Rishikesh, instead of Haridwar-Roorkie route, as it would give me an opportunity to visit a new city ‘Dehradun’. The journey was very beautiful and you will surely love the drive, passing through the forest area. The three things which I had heard about Dehradun since my childhood were ‘Dehradun Rice’, ‘Doon School’ and ‘FRI’ and wanted to see the last two before leaving the place. I was not aware of any other places in Dehradun that time. The city is famous for its picturesque landscape and pleasant climate. It also provides a gateway to the surrounding region. The first impression was good. It was not a crowded place like today but still it is a very good place to live even now. I get to know the place very well after my frequent visits there in the last couple of years, stayed for several days and explored all the places and in love with the city (but that story can be shared with you sometime later, if there is anything left after Mahesh’s beautiful series on Dehradun https://www.ghumakkar.com/2011/01/29/first-day-%e2%80%93-first-week-in-dehradun-capital-of-of-dev-bhoomi-part-i/).

Forest Research Institute

Founded in 1878, as the British Imperial Forest School, by Dietrich Brandis, the Forest Research Institute is an institute of the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education and is a premier institution in the field of forestry research in India. In 1991, it was declared a deemed university by the University Grants Commission.

The main building will remind you the British Raj, as it has colonial style of architecture. You may also feel that you are in some other country. There are six museums. A must visit place, whenever you are visiting Dehradun next. For more you can refer http://fri.icfre.gov.in/

The corridor

The main Building

Right Wing

Left Wing

Panaromic View of FRI, merging above three pics in Photoshop

After spending few hours at FRI, it was time to find out the route and lunch. On my way, I saw the direction of Mussorie, the queen of hill stations. “It can be explored next time”, I thought and did that in style few years later. After lunch, at 2:30 with the help of some locals, reached the exit point of the city to start my return journey through Rajaji National Park.

“Welcome to Rajaji National Park. Project Tiger, save the Tiger.”

“What a welcome! Is this a reserved sanctuary for Tigers? I felt a nervous shiver down my spine almost immediately. What to do now!  I don’t want to fall prey to tigers.”  For the first time, I was literally scared. The road was almost empty and only few vehicles were passing through but couldn’t see a bike for a long time. I had no idea about the road and whether it was safe to go or not and none was at sight to ask. It was already 3 p.m. and thought to go back to Haridwar and follow the safer route to return. After almost half an hour managed to stop a car, who gave me some encouragement and asked me to follow him. I couldn’t enjoy the road, as I was praying to God that please save me for this time only. What a relief, when I finally crossed that stretch of nearly 22 km;  might have felt every heartbeat of mine. However, I enjoyed that stretch several times after that incident and it is a delight to drive through. There is a famous Kali Temple, do stop there and have a darshan.

I realized the importance of the day after reaching Roorkie, as “today is Dusshera’. It was already dark. People were returning from fairs after burning the effigies of Ravana and children were carrying balloons, flutes etc…it was a lovely scene…it brought childhood memories instantly, remembering those sweet moments…oh no…not again here…why every time I go back to my childhood days. Finally reached at my cage around 12. I should have photographed my T-shirts as the colour of all my T-shirts changed from White to ‘BLACK’ and it took some efforts to clean them. Next day morning, the first thing was to go to market to develop the film as I was eager to see the photos. I was also able to save some money as staying was almost free at all the places and didn’t cost much. I also had to survive the entire month till next month’s salary.

“How was your Puja? Hope you had a nice time”, everyone asked, as soon as I reached office. Yes, it was indeed…wanted to keep it a secret except to my close friends in office…but it was a matter of few minutes when everyone came to know and I was given a special treatment for that. “Are you mad? If something happened to you, who will be responsible for that; what will we tell to your parents. We are your local guardians and how can you take such a risk and that too at night…promise not to do that again…” Thank you all for your love and affection, if you are reading this post.

Though the trip started with a negative mindset, at the end of it I carry home many many positive things along with me, which help me to be optimistic at every stage in life and introspect, even now. I will cherish those sweet memories throughout my life.

Today, when I look back on those few days, I just smiled at the sweet memories I had made, the bike ride, visiting Haridwar and Rishikesh, which brought some changes in me.

Those sweet memories

I couldn’t share many photos with you as those were the days when Digicam was out of my reach. I would like to introduce my second best friend in this journey, just for you.

a silent friend of mine

Hope you have enjoyed this adventure of mine, as I did to bring this up after a decade. We should look at our past with pride, without any regret. Today, whatever shape and form we are in, it is because of our past. We must enjoy our present and our tomorrow will be beautiful. Wishing you all to have a great time ahead during this festival month with your near & dear ones.

Enjoy your life.


  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    Amitabh ji……
    Very good & nicely narrative post……. Thats great you have enjoy ur first hill tour by bike…

  • Ritesh Gupta says:

    thanks & greeting to you for durga pooja and festival month…….
    Ritesh…….. :)

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Very well narrated story along with beautiful pictures. I was aware of FRI & Doon School but this Dehradun rice? I have never heard about.


    • Tx Mukesh for your appreciation.

      ‘Dehradun Rice’ is nothing but Basmati rice. I don’t know from where it originates. Actually, rice is our staple food. Rice is grown primarily in the rainy season and is ready for harvesting in late
      autumn. Then some are processed by boiling (parboiled or ‘siddha chal’) and some without boiling
      (atap) and husked & stored.

      Most of us, in Bengal, normally use parboiled rice for everyday meals and use Basmati rice (read Dehradun rice) for any special occasions, to offer ‘Bhog’ to God, Biryani etc. etc. It was a common belief that Dehradun is the only place which produce Basmati rice, hence this name most probably. May be someone else can throw some light in it, as I may not be correct. I use the same name, as I heard from childhood.

      Have a nice day,

  • Amitava ,

    Do you write a diary ? i am asking this because you are remembering the dates 12 years ago. This can happen only if you jot down your journey somewhere.

    Nice post of vintage journey with classy pics .

  • Hi Vishal…Thank you for reading the entire series and loving it.
    The last two pictures were taken by Nikon D5100 camera. I just thought to add few “tasty spices to the meal” once again….:-)

    Writing a diary…yes, I did had the habbit of writing my activities at one point of time on a regular basis either in a diary or may be in a notepad…when you are staying alone, you can also utilize your time in some constructive ways…I always thought what I would do at night….reading books, watching Star Movies & HBO, surfing net and finally go to bed while music is still on and many a times I switched off my TV or computer next day morning (few days back, you wondered about my sleeping habit of 4 to 5 hours in a day…it was developed since those days only – no one to ask for and I was my own caretaker) – however before retiring I used to write one page diary always (I am sure that this is not my story alone), those are my priceless possession till date…unfortunately I lost some of them due to numerous shifting from one place to another…yet to find a permanent address you know, which most probably will be over around this time next year…this write up is a combination of photos, diary, but mostly from my memory.

    However, remembering dates is my hobby – it is not like that on June 20, 1999 at 3:30 p.m. I did that kind of topic in any discussions…but only for me whenever I wish to go past.

    Some of the above hobbies are no longer part of me anymore…like watching TVs, reading books and I miss them…but still I love to memember my activities and in today’s digitized world it is slightly easy.

  • SilentSoul says:

    amitava it was an interesting travelogue… specially the information on FRI was new and descritptive

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi Amitav,

    I thought we were in Puja mood ( and series) :-)

    Good going , both of them…..

    Yes, bongs have special place in their heart about (as far as hills and sourcing of food is concerned )
    two things; Deradoon rice and Noinitaal aaloo, if I am not wrong.

    Commendable, putting up such detailed description from more than 10 years back.

    Eagerly awaiting your next part on the Puja series….



    • Tx Auro…

      Yeah…definitely yes…we are in Puja mood…this last part took some time to complete.
      Absolutely right about both the things…’Deradoon Rice’ and ‘Noinitaal aaloo’…it’s very difficult to convince my mother & sister when they plan to cook Biryani even now…

      As replied to Vishal, it’s a combination of photos, diary and mostly from my memory…Thank you for liking this adventure of mine.

      Do watch this space in two days’ time from now.

      Have a great time…

  • Abheeruchi says:

    Nice and adventurous post…Liked FRI

  • vinaymusafir says:

    Well written post. Pics are good.
    I am also planning to visit Neelkanth Mahadev temple this month’s end.
    Keep writting.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Words of wisdom to finish this series. Brilliant Amitava.

    Yes the ‘Haldwani Aaloo’ is pretty famous along with Doon rice. Then there are those bakeries (Ellora) as well at Doon.

    That stitched photo is a work of art. I am guessing that you didn’t have a tripod and there must have been some tilt as well so to be able to make that kind of stitch is super.

    Wishing you a happy Pujo Amitava as you head to East. Great series.

    • :)….belief me this is what I always feel…I’m not exaggerating…Tx.

      I have had the opportunity to taste things from Ellora bakeries in Dehradoon. I also like sweets from a famous Sweet Shop at one corner near Ghanta Ghar…I forgot the name…I think it starts with ‘K’…

      Thank you for appreciating the photo…it’s a special one and my personal favourite…taken only for this post to add some tasty spices (Vishal’s word)…you are correct, I have no tripod and rest you have already said.

      Wishing you and everyone a very happy Durga Puja, Navaratri…yeah, it’s a nice feeling to be at home with everyone…

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Very well narrated !

    Basmati was introduced by Afghanistan who brought seed from their, now hardly people grow basmati rice in Dehradun.

    Now Dehradun is famous for it confectioneries. Sunrise bakery -paltan Bazar & Ellora bakery – Rajpur road are the famous one.

    To explore Dehradun atleast 4 days are required , there are lot of historical places to visit. If you get time go through my post on Dehradun.

  • Thank you Mahesh, as well as for the information on Basmati rice.

    I am aware of those confectioneries at Dehradun…and it’s just like Kolkata.
    I stayed there once for almost one week and explored the places and few days later on. I even planned to buy a plot over there, but somehoe that didn’t materialized.

    Without your permission, I had already given a link of your post in my post….hope you don’t mind for this…

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