Rishikesh : Peace, thrill or both !

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The incandescent diyas were ready, and so were the priests, identically attired in their traditional costumes. Standing on wide stools that faced the Ganga. Flames of the diyas, swirling in the chilly winter air, greeted the devout and the curious alike. The circular movements of the diyas, the Aarti and the pause.

Everything was synchronized.

This dreamy excerpt was from the Triveni ghat at Rishikesh. My first Aarati at Rishikesh,  but before it all that could even start I knew I was about to witness something spectacular.

There is possibly no place like Rishikesh. Truly. Everyone who ever had been to this charming ancient city will only second this. The strangely beautiful mix of cheers emanating from a raft on the Ganga and the far away chants from Ghats and temples makes it a remarkably unique experience. With so much to do and to experience , the city seems overwhelming and calm at the same time.

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Daylight was behind us.Most shops had closed. The streets were barren.In the middle of Ram Jhula, looking at the reflection of lights and the chilly breeze creating wavy patterns on the Ganga. We were in awe. It was in that moment when I realized how travel can put you through such magically intense emotions that is not possible while sitting at a desk  or in the comforts of your home.Alive and wonder-struck . In the barren streets we could see foreign tourists walking around . The iconic Chotiwala restaurant was still open. Cows strolling on the terraced banks, a sadhu smoking a pipe near a ghat. Old ashrams looked majestic in the night. The walls and facade of these ashrams on Ganga’s banks made me really nostalgic.Something to do with my childhood.

Westerners made a beeline for Rishikesh after the famous visit of the iconic band Beatles  in 1968. It was probably the Beatles whose Rishikesh sojourn opened the floodgates of interest in spirituality and in Yoga . The Beatles, in a sense, introduced Rishikesh to the World..This “Yoga capital of the world” made a mark on the world’s map.  The ‘Beatles’ ashram’ remains, and its walls resonate with the free spirited lyrics and music of the timeless band.

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Have you been to “Neer Falls’ ? Asked the lady at the shop while I was looking at the woolen  stoles . No,I said. “But its beautiful, you must visit it.”  I made a mental note, as I nodded. And we were on the track that goes to the Neer falls next  morning.  I was hoping it would not be another popular spot like Kempty Fall as popularity is synonymous with trash and not just crowd.

A little hike and we could see the turquoise blue water falling into a pond which could be seen from a walk bridge over the stream. It was a pleasant feeling to see the clean water and surroundings.

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What’s the Rishikesh trip without a hint of adrenaline rush ? Why not zip lining ? It’s something  I had never tried, so here it was. When the instructor adjusted my harness , I looked at the length of the zip line. Isn’t  that too long ? What if I just drop into the river ? No life jackets ?

But having completed a drill session , I was assured. And I was flying over the Ganges ! The screams of rafters as I looked at them from above. Wow ! It was scary, but exhilarating at the same time. I could feel the wind on my face and the thrill in my body.

Yes, I will come back again. And again. I left with this promise.

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