Words By Chris Jones

Rishikesh (ii)

February 1, 2020

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Waterfalls and Mysterious Cafés

Following on from our travels through Jaipur and Ranthambore, we were now settling into the pace of India and the time spent in Rishikesh increased our sense of peace and spurred us onto explore. It was easy to see why the culture adored the Ganges River, its meandering presence weaved through the mountains cold and energising, full of spirit and ancient wisdom. It is said one dip in the river can clean you of all worldly sin. However, we only managed a foot or two – It was pretty cold!

Earlier, we had met with a hospitable man at our apartment who, as well as kindly fixing our TV and WIFI, offered to take us to a nearby waterfall and give us a chance to climb some of the foothills. This turned out to be a huge highlight of our journey – as well as finding a little slice of peace and quiet, we were greeted with incredible views of Rishikesh and the neighbouring foothills as we made our ascent.

It was a steep climb for sure, and an unusually hot day for February. Amazingly, the waterfall had formed large pools after thousands of years pounding the rocks and both tourists and locals were using these pools to swim in and keep cool!

At the top of the foothill, much to our surprise, we found a small café serving chai so we stopped and chatted with a man from Germany who had been living with the café owners. I couldn’t help thinking the trip to restock supplies must be pretty arduous!

The trip down was easier, although we both now had a case of the wobbly knees. We went off the beaten track a bit, through a forest before we found the road back to Rishikesh.

Himalayan Sunrise

Our final day in India started early, a bit too early for me and I began the day in a grumpy, sleepy slumber. We had booked a taxi to take us to Kunjapuri Temple where it was possible to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas.  The drive up was fairly long, so an early start was a necessity.

When we finally reached the spot we were a little dismayed to discover that we had to climb several flights of steep steps for to our vantage point (we still had a case of the wobbly knees!). The air was thin and cold, Lucy was sure she’d succumb to altitude sickness! Luckily, midway up the steps we met with a group of travellers who were huddled together drinking chai from a local vendor. One of the great things about India is that there seems to be chai available wherever you are! We drank up and made our way to the temple.

It’s hard to even begin to explain the strange emotions I felt when the sun peaked from behind the distant, jagged landscape of the Himalayas. I remember shouting, “there it is!” – as if I had never once before seen a sun. I guess I hadn’t, not like this. We felt the great tilt of our planet, and the accompanying rush.  I can only explain this as a divine moment, something these photographs don’t really do justice to – all of the romance, all of the awe!

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