It was a bright and sunny morning the next day which meant that, devoid of mist, we had an even clearer view of the surrounding hills. It was then that we realized that the view from Gun Hill was visible right from our room!
I could stand in the balcony and gaze at the snow-capped Himalayas to my heart’s content.
Knowing that the mighty river Ganges was just a couple of hours drive away from Mussoorie, we wanted to visit Hardwar and Rishikesh. So we were off to Dehradun in a Govt. bus that offered an almost rickety ride. The bus went till Dehradun Railway station. We came to know from some locals that we had to go to another bus stand (ISBT) to get buses to Hardwar and Rishikesh. There are a lot of share autos available to ISBT bus stand. With no specific plan in place, we got into the first bus that came our way, which was to Rishikesh.
We found out that the places to visit, Ram Jhula & Lakshman Jhula, about which I have read and heard so much, were at a walkable distance from the bus stop.
We first decided to stop over for lunch. The lunch turned out to be ‘unforgettable’, thanks to the plates piled with butter naan and an overload of paneer side dish that we were served. The last thing that we expected was such a big-sized naan and a huge quantity of the side dish!
After a good 10-15 minutes walk, we came across a bridge over a river that didn’t have water.
(See the drainage water! Sigh!)
We started wondering if we were seeing Ganga sans water!! It was only while we were leaving Rishikesh that we realized that faraway at the end of the pebble-filled empty river bed, water of Ganga was indeed visible!
It was at that time that my camera stopped working! 🙁
We continued our hunt for Ram Jhula and it was only after another 15 minutes walk that we finally saw a road to the right which was crowded. Reaching the end of that road, we finally saw the clear waters of Ganga!
The weather was quite hot in Rishikesh in contrast to the cold weather of Mussoorie and we felt stupid being the only ones carrying our jackets in our hands!
Stepping on the cold and clear water of Ganges, losing myself in the lovely sight offered by the clear water, pebbles and the hills on the backdrop, walking over Ram Jhula, crossing Ganga on a boat on the way back, I just loved the place.
Seeing so many two wheelers whiz past us in Ram Jhula made me wish vehicles were not allowed through Ram Jhula. We didn’t visit Lakshman Jhula.
Debating on whether to stay for the Aarti here or to go to Haridwar, we finally caught a share auto to Haridwar.
Reaching Haridwar, we were greeted by Ganga flowing in full force. The first thing that struck me as we walked towards Hari-ki-pauri was the contrast between Haridwar and Rishikesh. While Rishikesh had an air of calm and peace, Haridwar was bustling with activity and the place was very crowded. A walk through the streets later in the evening showed that it was just shops and shops selling either food or pooja articles that formed a major part of the place.
We first checked into a hotel (Hotel Teerth) on the banks of Ganga. I wanted a room with a view of the Ganges and got it too. 🙂
The room was pretty neat. I would recommend it for the beautiful view of the Ganges and the sunrise that you get to see from the room. The food wasn’t good though.
We went to see the famed Aarti which was happening very near the hotel. We had to cross a small bridge over the Ganges to see the Aarti from the other side.
The entire place wore a chaotic, ‘thiruvizha’-like atmosphere what with the ‘Jai Gange Mata’ Aarti song playing on loud speakers, vendors selling beautifully-decorated plates having lamp(s) amidst flowers everywhere and people pushing each other to get to the front to float their Aarti thali (plate) on the Ganges.
Having no clue whatsoever about what is there to see in Haridwar apart from the Aarti, we enquired about the temple that could be seen on a hill nearby and came to know that there were two temples (Mansa Devi & Chandi Devi) on two different hills on either side of the Ganges worth visiting. We were also told that there was a package offered by the Govt. for visiting the two temples for which you can get tickets at the base of the Mansa Devi temple hill.
To be contd…