Rishikesh ‘Lessons learnt from the Ganges’

Long weekends have become a norm these days to plan those quick excursions or getaways which you really look forward to unwind and come back fresh and energetic.

It was one of those Friday evenings when some of my crazy bunch of friends dropped home unexpectedly. Not aware of the agenda, I took it as a casual visit for drinks and chat. Soon the conversations got loud and exciting, I jumped out of the kitchen to realize that an adventure trip to Rishikesh was the topic of discussion to make the most of the long weekend ahead.

As they say, the most unplanned adventures are the most exciting & memorable and here we were setting out for our weekend fun & frolic.

A very early morning start, kids getting up on one call is surprising but I guess it’s the sheer excitement. Rush hour packing, carrying enough munchies for kids for the road trip, the adventure had already started for us.

Kids love to explore & participate in adventure activities. Its best to expose them at an early age and my experience says that the more you demonstrate, the more excited & spirited they are to engage in these activities. It’s a tested theory!

We began our journey from Gurgaon to Rishikesh with the aim to reach our destination by 3pm. On way, we had some delicious North Indian breakfast with paranthas and spicy pickle and clicking some awesome shots on the way.

Rishikesh offers a host good premium as well as budget hotels in the price range of INR 3000-6000 and beyond depending on your choice & comfort. Even the budget ones are pretty hygienic. On reaching, we ventured out to explore a few local attractions and book our rafting experience for the next day.

(Rift rafting details & booking options are easily available online).

As a group we decided to break out and explore our own choices for the evening and assemble at dinner.

Always excited with the lens in my hand, I & my family went for a stroll in the small by lanes of the city as I captured the small nuances which make Rishikesh- spiritual and majestic. Talking to a few locals to about the city, the rafting & other popular activities, I was told that Rishikesh is also the ‘Yoga capital of the world’ apart from being a sacred place. It has innumerable yoga and meditation centres that offer services to heal mind, body and soul.

Always watch out for monkeys while walking down the hilly sections of the city. Some of them lazying around can surprise by jumping over and snatching your camera or eatables.

Sounds fun & hilarious, but good to be careful!

Little Gypsy Crossing the Ram & Laxman Jhula

Ram & Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh

My daughter all excited to cross the Ram & Laxman Jhula. It truly is a beautiful sight overlooking the Ganges. You soon realize that the bridge shakes too.

The ‘Kailash Niketan’ temple situated across the bridge is one of the highlights of Rishikesh with its 13 storey building full of sculptures of various Gods & Goddesses on each storey. The city has a number of iconic and small temples for tourists to experience and seek blessings.

On my way back from the temple. I crossed colorful market streets selling local handicraft, artificial jewelry, wooden artifacts, sheikhawati Paintings, woolen clothing and gem stones which are high selling mostly for astrological & health reasons.

As an art connoisseur, I was tempted to pick up some beautiful paintings which costed me a few grands.

(Always suggest bargaining to crack a value for money deal)

An evening well spent, I headed back to the hotel for dinner with the group and called it a day.

All geared up for our adventure and rafting experience at 11:30 am, we took a morning stroll along the trail after a filling breakfast. Seeing a few residents indulging in yoga and meditation felt so calm and serene. I had a quick chat with one of the yoga center owners’ who shared some interesting facts to fuel my knowledge.

Rishikesh, The Yoga Capital of the World

  • Rishikesh is the yoga capital of the world.
  • It is widely believed that indulging in yoga on the banks of river Ganga in Rishikesh brings one closer to attainment of Mokhsha (Liberation of soul).
  • International Yoga day is performed every year in February here which sees a huge influx of global tourists.
  • Rishikesh has a history with the famous ‘Beatles’ having apparently composed nearly 48 songs during their visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram in Rishikesh. ‘The Happy Rishikesh song’ is dedicated to the place.

Some of these facts were truly inspiring and made me fall in love with our culture and tradition even more.

We were now ready for our river rafting experience with the men of the group taking the dare first.

Some of the kids in the group were not eligible for the adventure, so the mommies decided to supervise them.

Being a first rafting experience for most of us, we took the 9 km stretch from Brahmpuri to Rishikesh.

River Rafting at Ganges, Rishikesh

The men loved the fun and adventure as we cheered them on from the shores. I must share that it’s quite a task to sail through the waves of the high current Ganges. More so, it was just Grade 1 rafting that we were indulging and the higher grades are even tougher, challenging & scary to a certain degree.

It was our turn now, I must admit that though I consider myself to be an adventure freak, I am quite a scare crow when it comes to high altitudes or deep waters. As they say, you should turn your biggest fear into your biggest challenge to overcome it. Here I was, doing exactly that!

Self-motivation and self-belief were driving to sail through this. It’s fairly easy while you are on silent waters but the moment the currents become rapid, you experience the real rafting. Water comes with full force and you need to balance well to stick through on the boat and raft. A sense of direction, balance and composure are the ingredients for you to pull off this experience successfully.

It is very similar to real life where you survive several challenges, roadblocks and sail through towards the path of success and contentment.

Just when I thought we were home, the boat starting tilting due to high currents and our instructor signaled to hold tight and keep rowing with strength. I was scared but something inside kept my will going and I pushed my limits with positivity. I can say the mom in me woke up for a few seconds while taking the challenge!

Finally, we were back to the shore; it was exhilarating and such a satisfying feeling to have crossed the challenge with success. You really feel a sense of achievement and pride overcoming such a tough experience.

Smiles were all around the group, kids loved the atmosphere and our Rishikesh adventure came to a fascinating end. One of my most memorable, fun trips!

To sum up my experience, I would say that River Ganges taught me how to face “Hardships and obstacles” in life as they are meant to make us strong. And overcoming them is the most rewarding experience.”

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