In last post of this series I had described you about our visit to various temples of Haridwar which we had left last day during sightseeing tour of Haridwar due to the shortage of time. Now after completing our Haridwar tour in the morning, we headed towards Rishikesh.
It had been drizzling since morning and the weather had become very pleasant. We were really enjoying the weather as well as the way with a lot of curiosity in mind because it was our first chance to see Rishikesh. The road condition was not so good but the scenic beauty on the way was captivating and enjoyable. We witnessed many temples on the way too. The distance from Haridwar to Rishikesh is hardly 30 Kms and it takes approx one hour to reach there by taxi.
Since we were glued to the fascinating temples at Haridwar and we wish to see all of them, we had got late in leaving for Rishikesh and as a result we had very less time in our hand to see Rishikesh, because same day we had to leave for Saharanpur. It was 11.00 AM when we reached Rishikesh.
Let’s have some idea about sacred city of Rishikesh:
Rishikesh is town in the Dehradun District of Uttarakhand state in India. Rishikesh is situated at 409 meters above sea level in the foothills of Garhwal Himalayan Range and surrounded by the Shivalik range. Rishikesh is 35 kms far from Haridwar, 90 Kms from Mussoorie, 25 Kms far from Jollygrant airport Dehradun, and 240 kms far from New Delhi.
Rishikesh has spectacular views of vegetation-clad hills. Rishikesh has also confluence of River Ganges and Chandrabhaga. The glorious attraction of Rishikesh is none other than the great river Ganges herself, running rapidly throughout the city. In the ancient time and still so many yogis, rishis, sages and sannyasis attracted to Rishikesh to practice yoga in this peaceful location. Since then, Rishikesh has known as an abode of sages. Rishikesh is a holy town with so many Ashrams and it is famous for the yoga world wide. Rishikesh is now world famous as a Yoga Capital of the world. Every year during the March month one week long International yoga festival is hosted by Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is also known as gateway to the Char Dham. Char Dham is four popular holy temples on the hills (Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri) Thousands of people attracted every year to Rishikesh for spiritual relief, peace, learn yoga, adventure and to take a dip for salvation. It is believed that a holy dip in the river Ganges in Rishikesh one can get “Moksha” (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth).
Two big suspension bridges play a major role in day- to- day life of Rishikesh. These two bridges (jhulas) are know as Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula (Named after lord Ram and his brother Lakshman, the heroes of the Ramayana, who supposedly crossed the river Ganges at Rishikesh on their way up to the hills.).
Lakshman Jhula: Big iron suspension bridge on the river Ganges which is 4.5 kms far from Rishikesh. It is believed that Lakshman (Brother of lord Ram) crossed the river here by jute rope. Current bridge is built in 1929 in when the old bridge (1989 built) was damaged in flood. Laskman Jhula is popular in tourist for shopping and other activites such as rafting. Both side of the bridge has so many different shops with interesting things to buy. Lakshman temple and Tera Manzil Temple is also situated here. From the bridge you can have spectacular view of river and the city. Lakshman Jhula is pedestrian bridge but it is also used for bikes.
Ram Jhula: Suspension bridge similar to the Lakshman Jhula between Sivananda Ashram and Swarg Ashram is known as Ram Jhula. Boat is also available here on sharing basis to cross the river. So many shops are available on the both side of bridge for shopping. Sivananda Ashram, Yog Niketan Ashram and Omkarnanda Ashram is located at one end of the brindge and the other end has Swarg Ashram, Gita Bhawan and Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Ram Jhula is pedestrian bridge but it is also used for bikes.
From Ram Jhula one can take a boat on sharing basis or walk on the bridge to cross the river. Both sides of the bridge is always crowded with shops of cloths, holy beads, shawls, precious and semi precious stones, replicas of deities, astrological gems, Ayurvedic medicines and Vedic treatises as well as signs of marketing yoga, meditation classes and Ayurvedic massage. Other side of the bridge is known as Swarg Ashram area. So many big ashrams are here such as Swarg Ashram, Gita bhawan and Parmarth Niketan. When you cross the river temples welcomes you with their engraved deities and music shops greets you divine sacred ragas.
In evening beautiful Ganges Ceremony (Ganga Aarti) is organized at Parmarth Niketan and Triveni Ghat. The Brahmin Pundits (priests) performs Ganges Puja (ritual worship) with Vedic hymns, sound of hands clapping and the drums (tabla). Hundreds of people come to witness this Pooja and offer leaf bowls which are filled with flowers and small oil lamps to the goddess. The small sparkling lights floating lamps, river Ganges and auspicious atmosphere creates such a magnificent view and feeling that can attract anyone to join the prayer even the visitors from outside India who can’t understand the vedic songs.
Coming back to our travel story. Upon reaching Rishikesh, we were astonished by the serene hills clad by the vegetation and greenery, and the mesmerizing views of mighty mountains and river Ganges emerging out of the hills, the views were magical and I was not in a mood of leaving even a single view without capturing in my camera so I started clicking pictures of this beautiful landscape.
The famous Laxman Jhula was in front of us and I was overwhelmed having a glance of it. The name which I had been hearing since my childhood was in front of me. The feeling was exceptional, and the views around left me speechless.
This bridge was very crowded and local people were riding their motorbikes on the bridge which irritated me a lot because due to these vehicles it was very difficult for the pilgrims to cross the bridge. Anyway, we crossed the bridge with mixed feelings in heart and fingers on camera. From Laxman Jhula the views of Ganges were stunning and spectacular. I wished to capture all the views in my retina forever. The scene of Godess Ganga coming out of the Himalayas is enough to satiate the soul. I captured as many pictures I could.
Since we had not taken our breakfast so far and were feeling like hungry so we decided to have some food first and then we will see Rishikesh with comfort. I had heard a lot about Chotiwala Restaurent at Rishikesh so I inquired about the same from locals and we all moved in the direction indicated by them. Soon we were in Chotiwala. The food was really delicious. It justifies with the popularity it has gained. After getting fully satisfied with the meals, we moved forward further to see other important places of Rishikesh. Since we were running short of time so we had darshans at all the places e.g. Parmarth Ashram, Swarg Mandir etc as quickly as possible. Ganga aarti was not in our destiny so we couldn’t be a part of it.
Kavita again proposed to take Gangajal and I was annoyed on her as we had already taken 2 cans (10 liters each) from Haridwar. I was worried that it would be difficult for us to carry the water cans all the way to our home, but as usual I had to surrender finally and one more can of 10 liters was included in our belongings.
We returned to the parking where our cab was parked. This time we came from Ram jhula. It was an awesome experience to have beautiful views of Ganges on both the sides from Ram Jhula.
Now it was getting late and we had to leave for Saharanpur, so we started our rturn journey to Haridwar. On the way back to Haridwar we saw some strange fruits which were looking like oranges but bigger in size and were sold on wooden carts. We hadn’t seen them before, so being curious I bought one. When I touched it with our tongue I was shocked, it was extremely sore. None of us could even taste it due to its soreness. Later on when I asked my friends on facebook about this fruits, I came to know that it was Chakotra.
Cab man dropped us at hotel in Haridwar and we checked out the hotel quickly and came on the reception to finalize the accounts. We took an auto rickshaw and moved towards bus stand to catch a bus for Saharanpur. On the way Sushant Singhal ji called me 2-3 times to make our arrival at Saharanpur easy. We reached Saharanpur at approx. 8.00 PM. Sushant ji was available at bus stop to receive us with his brand new car. We were very happy to meet him in his own city and started for his home. Upon reaching home Bhabhiji welcomed us whole heartedly and we were too happy meeting her. First we were served Hot Samosas with sweets and after an hour the dinner was ready. Shahi Paneer and Gulaab Jamun made our dinner delicious.
Our train was at 3.30 AM so we decided not to sleep as it was already 10.00 PM. After dinner my parents and kids went to bed and we four were all set to have a long chat together. We sit together till 2.00 AM and then I started waking up parents and kids and at 2.45 we left Sushant jee’s home. He dropped us to Railway station by his car in two rounds. With a heavy heart we bid adieu to Sushant ji and thanked him for his heart winning hospitality. Train arrived at its right time and we moved towards our home.
Now the situation was improved in Ratlam and the life in the city was on the track and things were getting normal. From Ratlam bus station we took a bus and reached our home. This tour as usual was a cherishing one and we still remember those days spent with Maa Ganga.
With this post this series of Haridwar and Rishikesh tour ends. Soon I will take you to Jammu & Kashmir in my next series. Till then happy ghumakkari to all.