I love the mountains. Not only do I love visiting them but I think I carry them around in my life all the time. Its fascinating. I don’t know why. I guess I get a sense of majesty and strength and calm that I can’t seem to find anywhere else. Just like some people might love the expanse of the sea.
It always reminds me that we as humans are one part of the universe, one of the living beings. However, the damage and control that we seem to have done far exceeds our role as one of the rest.
But this blog was not about that. I had visited Rishikesh a few years ago and loved it. Though it was really hot, the place seems to evolve all the time.
Since it is one of my regular haunts, I did not travel around so much this time. The one place that I always go to is the walkway the government has built near the ghats. It truly is world class and a treat to visit. As the summers had set in, we would go there at 5 am for a walk. On one side of the walkway are the ashrams and hotels and on the other the Ganges with forest and mountains clearly visible on the opposite side. Surprisingly the place is popular with locals but not the visitors and it just serves everyone best. There are no dustbins with signs to keep the place clean. And for a change people actually follow it which is a change for any Indian city. At small places there are steps for people to go into the river and dip. The Ganges was overflowing, and the sound of water, people and the breeze truly gave so much peace to my city-wearied heart. It was like being embraced by the universe and at the same time gave strength to go on no matter what.
The next day we bravely ventured out in the evening to Ramjhula and Laxmanjhula. We managed to find off beat ghats and places to sit, despite the crowds milling in the streets. Of course one has to really be willing to explore all strange looking alleyways to find them. We were not the only adventurers. It was refreshing to see the local residents dipping in free abandon, taking baths and really enjoying themselves in the ice cold waters of the Ganges. I used to think only the tourists ran berserk at these places but the sheer joy on their faces told me otherwise. The confidence that they can anytime just come out of their homes, and dip into the river waters was enviable.
Bunches of people river rafting would break the silence with their shouts and cries of delight; one couldn’t help but imagine and participate in their happiness. It was so palpable.
Recently I heard that the rafting has stopped since the River and the ecosystem is under threat. However, I will go back again, this time in winters, experience the magic again.