It has been approximately 28 days in India- almost a month, which is amazing considering that it feels like we just arrived at the Habitat Center in Delhi a few days ago. The past weekend, we got a chance to go to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. Given that the city is also known as the world capital of yoga, naturally we decided to prepare a little bit beforehand:
My instinct before any trip is to try to plan it out as much as possible, but there is only so much that you can plan for in a foreign country and we have been busy most of our work days between projects and running Propeller, the program for high school students (more on this in a later blog post!). Before leaving for Rishikesh, the extent of our planning involved 1) calling a hotel in the area and hoping that they can fit 4 people in one room 2) hoping that the car to take us to Rishikesh shows up in the morning.
Lo and behold, after waiting for a bit, a car shows up the next morning. Although Google Maps indicated that the trip is estimated to be around 3 hr 22 min, it was not surprising when we arrived in Rishikesh in a little under 6 hours. The place we were staying at was located amongst a group of “cottages.” After a slight confusion between “Bhandari Swiss Cottage” and “New Bhandari Swiss Cottage” we finally arrived in our home for the next few days.
So what did we do in Rishikesh for 3 days? Long story short: we walked, we ate, and we enjoyed.
The main bridge, Lakshman Jhula, was a quick walk from where we were staying. Built in 1939, Lakshman Jhula is a 450 ft long iron suspension bridge that sits about 70 feet above the river. The story goes that at the site of the current bridge, the younger brother of Lord Rama, Lakshman, crossed the Ganga on jute ropes, which is why the bridge is named after him. Near the bridge are temples and local market vendors.
From Lakshman Jhula, we tried to find the Beatles ashram. As a bit of history on this ashram: In February 1968, the Beatles came to the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This was after they had met Maharishi in London. Although the ashram was abandoned in 1997, many of the meditation and lecture locations are still partially intact as well as the guesthouse where the Beatles stayed and wrote a large part of the White Album. In our attempt to find the ashram, we stopped and asked several people on the side of the street. As usual, we received various responses with regards to distance, but the general direction was the same so we kept on walking. And we walked. Forward, up an incline, forward, up another incline, forward and down an incline until we came to Ram Jhula- a bridge that is similar but slightly larger than Lakshman Jhula. At this point, we still did not know where the ashram was but because it was getting late we decided to go in search of our favorite part of India: more food.
Flash forward to the end of the weekend update #1: We tried to look for the Beatles ashram another time on Sunday and turned out to be mostly successful 🙂
Update #2: No yoga was done (Leora and I woke up for 8:30 am yoga but the instructor did not show up). Hopefully we can get some yoga in on the upcoming international yoga day!
Update #3: We found another peaceful cafe Sunday morning- where Leora finally ordered some hummus
Looking back, we did not take as many photos as usual. The saying goes that a “picture is worth a thousand words,” but truth be told, some of the best moments in India, I haven’t been able to fully capture on camera. In those instants, all you can do is pause and try to catch a little bit of the moment in your memory.
Most of the second day in Rishikesh was un-photographed because we went rafting. Originally we wanted to go rafting in late afternoon to avoid the hot midday sun; however, the only slot open that day at the office was 12:30, so we went for it. Armed with multiple layers of sunscreen and many bottles of water, we were ready to take on the midday sun.
To our surprise, the scene quickly changed from sunny to down-pour right as we got out of the car (Monsoon came sooner than expected). Our guide motioned for us to use some trees as shelter and we were a bit unsure of whether we would be able to raft. In Rishikesh, the rafting season ends around June and starts up again around September. As we got onto the raft, there was still a slight rain and the mountains had that beautiful misty post-rain look. The water was choppier than normal and the air felt fresher.
At a point down the river, we stopped at a rest stop of sorts. Our guide motioned toward the rocks, indicating that if we wanted to cliff jump, we should go for it. From below, the jump didn’t look that high. Standing at the edge right above the water was another story. The water hit harder than expected and the fall was more similar to that feeling you get when you down a roller coaster than expected, but I’m glad that I did it.
India is full of color. The color is unavoidable, in the best way possible.
Everything from the fruit stands to the paint on trucks with the “Horn OK Please” and the “Use Dipper at Night” signs to the bags of chips hanging from the road side stands to the clothing is vibrant.
From a marketing perspective, when everything is colorful then nothing sticks out. But from a life perspective, the abundance of color in this country makes me happy.
- Sunrises and sunsets
Before leaving Delhi, I was asked whether sunrises or sunsets were better. Truth be told, the only sunrises I’ve witnessed in Philly have been after a long night of work that spills into the early morning. In India, however, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing both and they are equally amazing: Taj Mahal at sunset with a golden glow, Delhi early morning sunrise as we cabbed to the train station and the roads were relatively silent for once, and sunset in Haridwar as we made it in time to see the Ganges Aarti.