Travel tales: Rendezvous with Rishikesh

Confluence of Cultures

Travelling has been a way of life for many people in the world. For me travelling is exploring new things and to be a part of new cultures. In the last one year my travelling has been a bit less compared to the other years. The last place I visited was Jaipur. Being busy with internship work and tied up with few other commitments, I devoted most of my time in Kolkata during May and June, 2018. I interned with “The Statesman” for more than a month and worked on other projects that kept me busy for the better part of my semester break.

This particular trip was planned by my Ma in just a month’s time. My maternal grandmother and she expressed their desire to pay a visit to Haridwar and as I stay in the capital city, they wanted me to join in. Earlier, when I was very young, I had been to Haridwar but I don’t have any memory of that place. Over the years, I have seen many photo stories and essays which did intrigue me and I always waited for an opportunity to venture into the holy land. My brief stay in Haridwar was good. I might do a blog post sometime soon.

Rishikesh Market

The idea of Rishikesh was always in my mind for the last 4 years. I always wanted to visit this place alone. The first time I got introduced to the place was through the band named “The Beatles”. Being an ardent listener of the band, I always wanted to visit this place and sense the spirituality this place offers. While the trip to Haridwar was being planned, I was planning my own solo trip to Rishikesh for a day.

Ram Jhula

I boarded a tempo to Ram Jhula. Believe me or not, it charged me 50 rupees to the place. It takes around 75 minutes to Rishikesh. It was amusing to travel with people from other cultures and the dialect of Hindi they spoke was amusing too. The road offers mesmerizing natural view of the hills and the holy river Ganga. Apart from the nature, there are houses and shops. People commute to and fro Rishikesh everyday for work. After reaching Ram Jhula, I planned to visit every corner of the place without any transport. From the point where the car drops, one needs to walk to the bridge. Ram Jhula is an iron suspension bridge across the river Ganges. On either sides of the river there are several ghats and ashrams aligning it. People use this bridge for daily transport purposes. Two wheelers are the only vehicles allowed here. My first destination was the “Beatles Ashram” which is also known as Maharshi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram. My next blog post will be on “The Beatles and India”. If you have any inputs on this then you are free to drop me a mail here.

Mothers of India

Beatles Ashram was located at the end of the city and as you keep walking the crowd and busy areas keep on decreasing and the sound of the rushing water increases. Being brought up in a city by which the river Ganges flows by, I have been very intimately acquainted with the ghats and so these ghats were not new for me. The high current of the water was something very amusing for me however. It was enthralling to walk down the street with ghats and river on one side and ashrams on another. I visited Parmarth Bhawan and after that I came to see a very unusual scene. There was this incomplete cement construction under which I saw several “sadhus” residing. It seemed that they have been travelling for long. I met two girls from Texas who are studying in New Delhi. They told me that it was their fifth time to Rishikesh and how they have started believing in spirituality and meditation. I witnessed that apart from the religious or pious angle, this place is a go to place for many youngsters all over the world.

Way of Life (Sadhus)

Rishikesh Market

Cultural Confluence

| J A M E S |

My next destination was Laxman Jhula which is identical to Ram Jhula and is also an iron suspension bridge. The area near Laxman Jhula was way more crowded than Ram Jhula. There are several cafes, shops and bakeries all over the place. I saw a small group of musicians sitting by the roadside and playing good music. I joined them in humming the tunes. I was so much engrossed in it that I did not even feel like capturing this moment.  While doing my regular homework before visiting a place, I found out that a café named “The Beatles Café” exists. I made up my mind to do my lunch there. While on my way back from Laxman Jhula, I met a guy named James from Canada. He was travelling in India and that was his first day in Rishikesh. He seemed to be a nice person. We had a short chat regarding the Indian culture and the place. I did photograph him and he asked for a photograph with me. After that, I started looking for the café and Google maps had given up after a certain point of time. After spending around 40 minutes I could find the place. Fun fact is that the café is situated at an elevated point on a hill and for that one needs to use the stairs and go up through a market. The walls of the entrance of the market had the graffiti of the “Abbey Road” album cover. I liked the connect. As mentioned above, wait for the next post for “The Beatles” related experience. After my lunch and a brief stay there I had to take a tempo back to Haridwar because it had started drizzling. I did miss the Ganga Arati but I do not regret it so much because I have witnessed it at many places in India. To be very honest, I was very happy to visit this soulful place and I hope to visit Rishikesh again.

Entrance to Beatles Cafe

Entrance to The Beatles Cafe ( Abbey Road Album Reference )

Ambiguity. Patterns. Chaos

Shadow Play in Rishikesh

Pilgrims in Rishikesh

On my way back to Haridwar, I met a family from Nilkanthapur, Odisha who were visiting the holy places. I discussed about Odisha’s culture and they were happy to hear that I have visited several places of the state apart from Puri. They offered me cigarettes and tea, which I think was a very good gesture.

Street Life of Rishikesh

I reached Birla Ghat, Haridwar in the evening and my day came to an end. It was one of those experiences which I am going to cherish for a long time. I hope to visit Rishikesh soon and make new memories there.

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