Aqua Green Rishikesh
The green, unhurried waters of the magnificent Ganga looked like a giant carpet, spread out way below!
Laxman Jhoola, the suspended bridge over river Ganga at Rishikesh swayed to the rhythm of commuters' footsteps. The green, unhurried waters of the magnificent Ganga looked like a giant carpet, spread out way below!
Midway over the bridge, there was a bunch of people offering little balls of dough to a hungry school of fish in the green aqua below. They gleamed silver, white and grey. Each time the balls touched the water surface, the fish went into a flurry of activity and it was quite an absorbing scene from up there.
Once on the other side of the bridge, Rishikesh welcomes one and all into its uncountable temples, ashrams and dharmshalas. Not to be missed is the famous Chotiwala restaurant with duplicates also doing brisk business. Its USP being clownish chotiwala waiters. Children and first time adult visitors too smile at the sight of its chubby, pink-painted chotiwalas, who look like they could use a lot of exercise after living off the ghee-filled food there.
There are plenty of places of places in Rishikesh which are patronized by foreigners, be they new-age gurus and their disciples, sadhus, seekers or tourists. Spirituality, health resorts and water sports seem to be top on the cards. What else is, one can't tell… The lure of the Himalayas sure has many takers from around the globe! Bookstores sell the latest from international selections on spirituality alongside Indian wisdom, in English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Bangla...
Just before the Laxman jhoola is Devraj Coffee Corner with the German Bakery and a well stocked book store next to it; a lovely haunt overlooking the Ganga.
A wide range of devotional music audio tapes and CDs are available on any roadside shack. Classical Hindustani music peons from the likes of Pandit Jasraj, as well as local talent from Vrindavan are all together in a shop. This wide a selection is not available in a hurry in ordinary cities.
In search of Nirvana
The music from many such shops can be heard together on any of the bathing ghats! The ears get a taste of competition at its audible best, microphones et al!
The sandy bathing ghats, with a few boulders strewn about serve as resting places. Minus changing rooms, women soon learn to change into dry clothes without actually getting out of the wet ones! Its done almost as if that's the way they've been changing clothes all their life, to be so perfect in the nuances! A wet sari held against a cool breeze to dry seems like an oversized, detached flag for any one of the bright ferry boats that take people across the river.
The Ganga is happy in its surroundings here, or so it seems. A kayaking couple waves merrily to the bathers on the ghat. Young men swim near the shore. Local legend has it that there are crocodiles in the water here and forbid swimmers to wallow in the deep. In any case the river flows calm here, and could be very very deep, so few people penetrate into untried waters here!
Sitting by the riverside at Rishikesh, one can scarcely imagine the filthy river that flows towards the Bay of Bengal at Kolkata! The pristine Ganga, young and clean at Rishikesh is a far cry from its future a few thousand kilometres downstream. A diver's call of Har Har Gange dispels my quiet contemplation of the problem at hand, and I look at the water in front of me, the river held in great reverence since its origin sure needs help from those it has nurtured for countless generations backwards...
Travel guide: Rishikesh
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