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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.