Forget about Carmen Beach or Tijuana, come to Rishikesh Part - 2
I went on an adventure. It was an adventure of a lifetime, deep in the most beautiful mountains with Spotify playing soothing tunes. I was cycling with new and exciting friends on the curved roads screaming my lungs out to taste the freedom and fragrant air.
Do you want to experience an incredible moment like this as well?
Do you want to spend the time of your life with your significant other?
Or would you like to create new memories and new bonds in front of a bonfire?
Is going on long walks with that person you want to keep in your life forever your thing? Or do you just want to rediscover yourself?
If your answer to any of these questions is YES, I've got you, my friends. For the second time, I present to you Rishikesh, a pilgrimage town and gateway to Garhwal Himalayas, a place bringing me close to heaven.
If you haven't read the first part, check out the link at the end of the post.
After having dinner at Chotiwala restaurant, my friends and I went on a relaxed night stroll, the Zostel being our destination. At night, Laxman Jhula was gleaming with lights, looking more beautiful than ever. The nearby shops were softly lit, sprinkling magic to the surroundings.
After some distance, we decided to take an auto-rickshaw to the Zostel.
Money spent:- INR 20/- per person as the total fair was 80/- divided into 4 persons
Upon reaching the Zostel, some folks went to bed to relax and scroll their phones, while I decided to kill some time in the common room because I didn’t want the night to end yet. In the common room, people were enjoying the Hindi classic Dil Wale Dulhania Le Jayenge (GIF has the scene from the movie). I could hear the shouts of cheer and maybe even saw a few tears from the people around me.
I clicked with a sweet and diverse couple (an Italian man and a Mexican woman), and we made small talk in the midst of it. I generally find the idea of diverse couples quite fascinating, but this couple made my heart melt.
Later, I found a deck of cards which I took back to the dorm. For the rest of the night, we enjoyed playing the bluff. This reminds me of a hilarious memory. One of the guys put in 4 fives and subsequently another person put in 2 fives, which is sort of impossible. The first guy very confidently decided to call the other one’s bluff but was left slack-jawed when the other 2 cards also ended up being a pair of fives. We later realized the deck of cards had 6 fives. There was roaring laughter all around. We also had to deal with some noise complaints because of this incident.
“You can make beautiful memories if only you step out of your comfort world AS WELL AS out of your scrolling world.”
Next morning I woke to a playful discussion of “Who snored the loudest” and a lot of finger-pointing.
I ushered myself to the bath and got ready for the exciting day in front of me. Later, I joined two Brazilian girls in some spiritual healing by talking to them about Yoga. Talking to people from different cultures can be a thrilling experience. Each and every person brings in a different perspective and valuable information. The girls were very excited about the International Yoga Festival and were mesmerized by Rishikesh Vibes. To them, Rishikesh was a liberating experience, and I would say I quite agree with the statement.
We had breakfast on the Zostel rooftop. Even though the food was a bit lack-luster, the view made up for it. I would suggest my fellow travelers explore the local eateries for breakfast. Desi breakfasts are an absolute must if one visits Rishikesh.
Zostel had a wall covered with paintings. Travelers were encouraged to mark the wall with whatever they want and leave a piece of themselves in Rishikesh. If you visit, look out for “Bawra Musafir” along with my Instagram username (@rishabh_jainz)
"While you’re trying to gather parts of Rishikesh in your memories and photographs, remember to leave a part of yourself on that wall. Rishikesh will remember you.”
Along with my friends and beautiful memories, I left Zostel for the next exciting adventure. We drove around in the mountains for a while and then finally reached for the most exciting part of the trip: Rafting.
This adrenaline-pumping activity is a widely known attraction in Rishikesh. We were going to begin from Shivpuri and go down 16km on the majestic river Ganga. There are many routes one can pursue rafting, and even though we were absolute novices, we decided to throw caution in the wind and go for a slightly challenging way. This particular stretch is famous for its intermediate rapids and its heart fluttering waves. Training with proper instructions were given before starting the rafting.
Some major rapids we encountered were: Double Trouble, Golf Course, and Roller Coaster. The rapid named Roller Coaster especially stopped my breath away.
Later that day, and as a mandatory ritual, we went in for the “Har Har Gange dupkis.” The fresh and chilly water gave me the feeling of being clean and refreshed. For ages, it is considered that these “dupkis” will rid a man’s body from all misdeeds and impurities. This is considered a significant Hindu Ritual.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture any of these scenic moments on my camera, as we were asked to leave our gadgets in a waterproof bag. A word of advice from my side, if you decide to pay for action photos during rafting, please do check the quality of the camera beforehand to make sure it’s up to your expectations. I was not satisfied with the quality, so I decided against paying for the photos.
“Not every ritual or custom needs to have a scientific basis. If it works today then it’s okay to just go with it. Sometimes they do end up being fun. Rituals and customs are a part of every culture and we should respect and appreciate it.”
After reaching the end of the line, we dried our clothes on the river bank and softly talked for a bit. Some were listening to some soothing tunes, and others were just looking in the distance, maybe trying to soak up the surroundings' sereness. From there, one can hail a car ride back to the starting point - Shivpuri. They have changing tents available where we changed our clothes quite comfortably.
We continued our journey and began heading towards our most awaited part of the trip - the campsite. We had an unexpected roadblock due to road construction, but we managed to reach our destination in due time. My pal maneuvered our car along the narrow mountain road and managed to safely get to the site.
The camping site was called Jungle Camping. As soon as we reached the camp, we retired our exhausted selves to our tents. As fun rafting was, it was equally tiring. In an hour or two, my stomach was begging me to feed it. So we went out for lunch at a small, quaint cafe situated in the camp. Surrounded by the fragrant Sal trees, the food had a different impact altogether. It was warm, smelled heavenly to our starved stomachs, and tasted quite good. Wherever your eyes would move, you'll be rewarded with the beautiful scenery of the Himalayan mountains. My pals played some cricket, and I joined in even though my interest doesn't always lie in that sport. It was a lot of fun nonetheless.
Money spent:- INR 2005/-. It includes Rafting, 1 Night Stay at Camp, breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Staying at the campsite made me realize a lot of things. I always imagined camping to be tedious or difficult due unavailability of basic needs. However, this camp was fully equipped with all the amenities one would need to satisfy the adventurer in you, had excellent service, and provided fantastic hospitality. I would go out on a limb and would even say that it was quite luxurious for a campsite. It had an in-house swimming pool and a ravishing view of the river. They had numerous packages to make our holidays fun and adventurous - Forest trekking, cycling in the mountains, bird watching, rafting, and many more.
Post our lunch and fun interactions, we went exploring the verdant mountains on our bicycles. We managed to get our hands on two bicycles (Hero Sprint and Firefox AXXIS) from the camp with our surprisingly sturdy helmets. Our group of four shared a bike, which ensued me taking a walk up the hills. It came to be a good decision because I experienced the Himalayas' beauty in its purest form. The tranquility of the flowing river and the soothing sounds of the chirping birds paired with fresh air took me to a whole new level of peace. I could never forget what it felt like.
The five of us, including a kind helper from the camp who came with us to bail us out of trouble(if any), reached the very top of the hill. We tried our best to capture the striking scenery in front of us from our camera and sat around for a while. I tried to breathe in as much of the serendipity as I could. Reluctantly after a while, we decided to head back down. This time, I got my hands on the bicycle. Well, I should admit, the absolute unadulterated thrill of riding down a hill, throwing all caution in the wind, had to be one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I was a late bloomer in the cycling department, and it horrified me to even think of trusting mere two wheels to take me somewhere. Fortunately, I overcame that slight fear.
“Travelling taught me a great way of overcoming my fears: Just Do it."
When we finally made it to the camp huffing and puffing, one of the peeps suggested something bizarre - an evening swim in the chilly winter of Rishikesh. After a vehement "NO" to the idea, we decided to give it a try. The pool froze my bones, and at that moment, I'm pretty sure I came close to knowing what paralysis must feel like, but the adrenaline junkie in me embraced the idea wholeheartedly.
Thankfully there was a bonfire set upright in the middle of the campsite. Later, we huddled around it and enjoyed the warmth. Good food paired with good music is an excellent way to describe that night. What made the night even more special was great company. I had the honor of interacting with a couple from Kerala, who were kind enough to really educate me about their culture. Since we had exhausted our bodies beyond measure, our rumbling stomachs needed a second round of dinner. So we headed to the camp cafe and feasted on the food over there. Kudos needs to be given where it is deserved. The camp provided us with every amenity that is required to make our trip luxurious and adventurous. I highly recommend going camping if you are planning a trip to Rishikesh.
After dinner, we all were dead tired. The smart and practical thing should've been to go to sleep. But when you're on an adventure, practical thinking has no place in the equations. We didn't want this night to end, so we just huddled into one tent and kept the stories and anecdotes flowing. The anecdotes soon turned into horror stories which positively made us scared shitless. Even a gust of wind got my heart thumping out of fright. We kept this up till the late hour of 1 a.m., but unsurprisingly we passed out of exhaustion and terror soon enough. We didn't even bother to return to our private tents - partly because we were tired and partly because no one dared to step beyond the safe zone now. When I think back, the whole situation seems pretty funny now.
If you've also had similar experiences, share them down in the comment section. I would love to hear them.
“I’ve witnessed paranormal activities for real. I’ve seen the haunted stories come to life that night. I refuse to admit that it might just be my overactive imagination.”
The next day I woke up quite early and surprisingly well-rested. I walked around the camp for a bit, breathing in the fresh air and losing myself in the atmosphere- the soothing chirping of the birds, the slightly chilly air that bit my cheeks, the woodsy smell of last night's bonfire, and the general serenity. The sunrise I witnessed peeking between the mountains stole my breath away. Is that what they call Stendhal Syndrome? I felt closer to enlightenment than I've ever been.
I went with the classic- Masala Tea and Parle-G biscuits to battle the chill in the weather.
Soon after, we packed our stuff and began our journey back to Delhi. We drove back and made a small halt at the Dhaba (small restaurant) on the highway for breakfast. Going back was a bittersweet journey. We all were somber because the journey had to end, but I was also hopeful and excited that maybe I'll come back one day. I was excited that perhaps I'll witness better things in life in the future. These thoughts keep me going on my path. Soon we reached Delhi.
Money spent:- INR 159/- on food.
The trip ended, and so did the blog post. But that doesn't mean I'll stop bringing new and exciting content to all of you. I hope you look forward to our new adventure as much as I do. If you haven't checked out my previous post, do look them up on the website's blog section. If you like my content and if it motivates you or helps you in any way, like the post, and please share it with your loved ones. Also, comment down below the parts that you liked or disliked or any experience of your own. You all know how much I love to interact with all of you.
Stay tuned for more fun and exciting travel content that will be coming soon.
Hasta La Vista!
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Written Content edited by Stuti Saran