The 3 days I was in Haridwar and Rishikdesh were among the happiest days of my life.
I was all on my own – a man on a mission. To be alone for some days. To find something within.
The 3 days that I spent in Haridwar were full of people, events, questions, interactions, and feelings of anxiety.
In just 3 days, I got the opportunity to stay in a hotel (this was for the first time I was out in a hotel). Lying on my bed, I could not sleep for hours. Butterflies flying all across my stomach made sure that I don’t dare to sleep for hours.
Saturday 9.15 – it was dark outside
The bus finally reached Haridwar bus depot. Along with 20-30 passengers, I was safe inside the bus. But outside?
I didn’t know anybody in Haridwar. And I have never been out on my own. And I have never been to a hotel.
I was scared a little. But I couldn’t go back. So I got off the bus. A rickshaw puller began to come towards me.
‘Kahan jayenge sahab – (where will you go, sir?)’ he asked.
‘Can you help me find a budget hotel?’ I asked.
‘Haan do teen hai, dikha deta haoon (yes, there’re two-three hotels, let me show you),’ he said with a wry smile.
He took to me a hotel. I found the rooms nice. And decided to stay. And paid 550 rupees to the man at the reception. He smiled and gave me the keys.
Sunday – 5.00 in the morning
I woke up early; used the bathroom to the fullest (after all, i had paid a whopping 550 bucks the previous night); once done with the daily rituals, i put a towel, some undergarments in my back-pack, and walked out of the hotel (of course, i locked my room with 2 different locks!)
Out on the road, i took an auto to reach Har Ki Paudi; the auto wala took some 10 minutes to reach Har Ki Pauri. Oh my d dogs!!! came out of my mouth, when i saw the scene there. There were hundreds of nangoos (naked people) on the ghaat:) There were young, there were kids, there were girls, and there were olds (and, of course, a huge number of sadhus (saints)) i strolled there for about 20 minutes ( i was actually looking for a lonely place, where i could take off my clothes and have a bath in the Ganges, without giving anybody any chance to see my six pack-abs:)) i finally found one.
8.00 in the morning: Har Ki Paudi, Haridwar
Got into the chilly waters of River Ganga, and remained there for hours! I was damn careful about my stuffs, which i had put on a stair nearby; i even got a call from my mum and i told her that everything is fine and watery. She told me not to get into the water, else i might drawn; i said okay, put the phone down in my bag, and dipped completely in the water, shouting, “Har Har Gangey! Har Har Gangey! Har Har Gangey!” I never had such as great time before! i really never had!
12.00 in the noon
I again had to pay 550 bucks for the day (the check out time was 12’0 noon, and i thought of staying one more day); after paying 550 bucks to that greedy guy at the reception, i rested for some time in my room, got in to the washroom and bathed with 4 buckets of water. Now, i was to go to Mansa Devi Temple and Chandi Devi Temple.
Lunch in the nearby Dhaba
I was hungry and i wanted something solid; i get into a Dhaba, asked for the thali, ate to my fullest, thanked the two boys there, made the payment and moved out for the Mandir (Temple). I must say, the two boys were so generous with me; one of the boys came to my bench, and offered some more rice; “Bhai ji, paet bhar ke khayiye, iska paisa nahi lenge (Eat to your fullest; we won’t charge for this extra).”
I Was in Air for 2 Minutes
I had two options to reach the Mansa Devi Mandir; either to go by foot or take a cabled-controlled trolly; i chose the latter one; so, i paid some 60 bucks for the ticket, and soon found myself getting pushed into a trolly; Wohhhhhh! i was in air; the feeling was awesommmmmme!
I found nothing special in the Mandir; the same old stuffs; the commercial little shops selling the Prashaad (offerings), and lots and lots of pandits (priests) asking you to empty your pockets (as much as you can).
I dropped the idea of visiting Chandi Devi Mandir, and thought of returning to my hotel by foot, and not by trolly; though i had paid for the return trolly fare and felt a little bad for not using the service, i loved every moment on my way down to my hotel (The Mansa Devi Mandir is on a hill).
I rested for some 2-3 hours in my hotel room, and then, again got ready to enjoy few more dips in the Ganga river; in these 2 visits to Har Ki Paudi, i had developed kind of friendship with a priest there, who would come to the Ghaat every morning and evening with a bucket of a mix of milk and water, and would ask the visitors to offer the Ganga water onto the Shiva Linga and other idols on the river side ghaat; on my previous day, i had paid him some 21 bucks; he again asked me to offer prayers to Ganga and the Shiva Linga; i obliged and paid him 10 bucks only; he, though, didn’t seem disappoint. I asked his name. “Subhash, Dood Wala,” he replied.
I was in my room; and, now wanted to move further to Rishikesh; i came to know that the place is just one hour from Haridwar; i came down to the reception, and said, ‘I’m Leaving!’ the guy didn’t even care to respond.
Thank U Sir! Said the Dhaba Boys
So, i was out there on the road, ready for Rishikesh; but, i had also something else at the back of my mind; i wanted to give some gift to the Dhaba boys who had been so kind with me. I found a shop nearby, and bought chocolate cookies for them; i went to the Dhaba; had my lunch; paid rs. 40 for the thali; and, with that rs. 40, i gave them that pack of chocolate cookies; that moment, i could see their eyes getting moist; one got very emotional, and said with a choked throat, ‘Thank U Sir!” i didn’t wait to reply, and moved out; i just couldn’t stand separation and tears-filled eyes.
The auto rickshaw dropped me at Rishikesh; it was a hot day, and all i wanted at that time, was a room. But, now i wanted a room in Dharamshala; partly because i wanted a cheap accommodation, but largely because i had never been to a DharamShala before. Two Dharamshalas refused me rooms at my face; one of the guys there said, “London ko kamraa nahi dete (we don’t give rooms to boys and girls, without families)” I, however, managed to get a room in a Dharamshala nearby; but, i had to sit and listen to the stories of the guy (the guard of the dharamshala) for full one hour before he said yes for the room; i paid 3oo bucks for a day for a 3 bedded room; alas! i could use only one.
After resting for 2-3 hours, i again put on my back-pack, and took an auto for the Ram Jhula; it was a 10-minute distance only.
Ram Jhula is like any other bridge over River Ganga; i spend some 2-3 hours there, sitting at the banks of the Ganga, talking to tea-vendors, and strolling around.
Tuesday 6.00 am in the morning
Though i kind of liked the bathroom of that Dharamshala’s 3 bedded room, i couldn’t sleep peacefully; i was up by 6 in the morning. I opened the doors, and found the guard standing outside my doors; “Ram Ram Saab Ji” he spoke with a smile on his face. “Ram Ram” i replied (how good i felt saying Ram Ram, instead of our usual Good Morning).
6.30 in the morning
I decided not to take the auto rickshaw and walk by foot; i walked some 2 kilometers; on way, i found many beautiful temples; i even found a Board that said, “Sangeet Vidhyalya… music taught by some acharaya” i don’t remember the exact words. I thought to go there… i finally found the music school and met the teacher and kids there… they were so, so, cute:):)
First came Ram Jhula (that i had been yesterday as well), then some 2 km walk by foot, and then, finally i reached Laksham Jhula; i kind of liked it; and, the nearby 12 story and 15 story mandirs
Bandar (Monkey) On My Back
I was about to cross the Lakshman Jhula; but, before i could cross, a Shyanda Bandar (monkey) jumped from one side of the bridge to another side, and i came in between; so, for a minute, he got on to my back; i was scared beyond imagination; the Bandar (monkey) seemed kind, and didn’t hurt me. I thanked God, once the money was off my back!
Back to Delhi:
I didn’t want to return; but, i had office to go to, and lots of articles, blogs and PRs to write; so, i took a bus from Rishikesh for Haridwar; i wasn’t able to take part in the evening Ganga Aarties, so i though to getting down to Haridwar, attend the evening Aarty, and then, took the bus to New Delhi.
Have you been there already?
If you’ve been to Haridwar and Rishikes, then, do share how you felt, below in the comment box; i would love to read your experiences!