Travel Tales

A Weekend in Rishikesh

There are times when the monotony of daily chores, the repetitive nature of indispensable duties and the boredom of a grueling professional life becomes too overwhelming to bear. These are the times when the body and mind not only seeks, but craves for solace and serenity. For the lovers of nature, the only place to find peace in its purest form is in the lap of it. And with this thought in mind, I packed my bags on a weekend and set off to immerse myself in the calm aura of Rishikesh.

One of the largest cities of the state of Uttarakhand, Rishikesh, is situated in the northern part of India, thereby positioning itself in the foothills of the Himalayas. Apart from being a coveted spot for pilgrims, believers and followers of the Hindu religion, it also attracts adventurers and nature lovers, owing to the pristine beauty of its location and the opportunities for various kinds of adventure sports and activities.

Being a person who is not too inclined towards religion, it is the promise of a wonderful escape from the bustling city-life that made me choose Rishikesh as the destination for my weekend trip. Being a resident of New Delhi, my best bet was to take a bus late in the evening and reach the shores of the Ganges at the break of dawn.

The bus dropped me at the depot which lies very close to the river. The moment I got off the bus, the first thing which hit me was the cool breeze that blew from the river bank. The whole place has a certain degree of calmness to it which cannot be overlooked, and that is when I realized that this is the place that has the power to put my frenzied mind at rest.

The River Bank at the Break of Dawn

I had already booked a holiday package for the weekend with The Great Northern Himalayas, one of the many campsites who accept visitors even in the off seasons. They sent a car to pick me up from a decided spot and off I went on my way to the camp site, which was about an hour’s ride. The best part about my weekend getaway was that when I had called the owner of the camp, he told me that since the tourist season had almost come to an end, I would be the only visitor at that point in time. And my joy knew no bounds when I realized that it would mean spending the entire weekend on a private beach, being a sole spectator of the beauty of Mother Nature.

The closer I got to the camp site; things kept turning for the better. The man who was in charge of everything, Meherban, turned out to be one of the nicest hosts. The dedication with which he carried out his duties, the passion he harbored for his work and his remarkably amiable nature made him one of the most respected man of that place. He assured me that my stay would be comfortable and I would have no reason to complain about anything.  And to my delight, his words came true!  He made sure that he served all the meals on time with his characteristic ‘friendly smile’ and was always too happy to oblige when called for anything.

The Camp Site

Owing to the impeccable hospitality of The Great Northern Himalayas Camp, I was able to live in, and create, some wonderful moments. I spent the first day loitering around the long stretch of the Gangetic beach, marveling at how the white sand glistened in the sun and radiated visible heat waves. The camp is sheltered by hills on all sides and therefore I got to experience one of the most coveted luxuries of today’s world- privacy!

The Camp Sheltered by Hills

Rocks Sand and Pebbles

The White Sand Beach

As evening approached, my host told me that it gets really chilly at night and the best thing to do would be to go to bed and call it a day. However, the hectic schedule that I followed in Delhi had almost turned me into an insomniac and sleep was the last thing on my mind at 6 o’ clock in the evening.

Bonfire

Upon expressing my desire to spend the night on the beach underneath a starry sky, Meherban gave me an understanding nod and went off to find firewood. After a few minutes, I found myself sitting beside a glowing bonfire, happily munching on a bowl of popcorn which my host had silently placed beside me before he walked off, and finally let myself get lost in the mire of thoughts and memories.

The bright and sunny morning that I woke up to the next day was perfect for my rafting tour. I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of maneuvering a raft through the fierce rapids of the Ganges. However, I was also scared to my wits ends as I cannot swim. Yet again, Meherban came to the rescue by being the perfect guide and instructed me so well that we crossed some of the most dangerous rapids without any difficulty and my heart brimmed with happiness.

He was so sure of what he was doing that I could not help but trust him with all my heart when he asked me to jump into the icy waters. And I did. To say that I was not scared at that point in time would be a lie, as it was  quite evident from my face, which had suddenly turned so pale that my guide had to pull me up on the raft after a couple of minutes, albeit after having a good laugh! The rest of the tour was quite peaceful as we sailed our way downstream.

After a while we reached the place where I had to bid farewell to my host and make my way towards the place I came from. I reached the bus depot where I got a bus which was about to leave for Delhi in a few minutes.

As the bus jostled its way out of Rishikesh, I let my weary body recline and tried my best to pacify my morose heart. The wet clothes, which I could not change owing to the lack of time, clung to me for a while and then dried off eventually, but the memories of Rishikesh did not.

Note: This article is from my Yahoo Contributor Network profile. It was published on Yahoo!Voices. Since the network is no longer active, the articles have been posted here.

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