Published: October 26th 2007October 26th 2007
Ok so did a bit of a whirl wind tour of Dehradun, Rishikesh and Hardiwar. I spent a day at the Mind Rolling Tibetan Temple just outside Dehradun. Truly stunning. Plus the name made me giggle. Rishikesh is where legend states that Lord Rama did penance here for killing Rāvaṇa, the demon king of Lanka. Literally hundreds of temples and the ashram where the Beatles came to find themselves. Also home to a ton of yoga centres and there are loads of swami and monks. The Ganges (locals call it the Ganga) is huge and very fast running. The water looks clean but don't be fooled. It is just the done thing that everybody out here litters. And I am not just talking about the odd crisp packet. Soiled nappies, food refuse, old clothes, anything that is no longer required is dropped, dumped, thrown out a moving car window and not surreptitiously either. People here consider the Ganga holy, they would not dare to fish in it but will quite happily pee in it. There are bins available to those who want to use them but you are more likely to see a cow or monkey munching in it. Cows will wander about the streets at will, most of them are abandoned and left to there own devices. The will cause traffic jams, stick there head in shops/restaurants - only to be shooed out and on occasion will rampage up the pavement. One particular cow decided that they did not like the look of a group of people and decided to charge up the street at them. I, unfortunately, was a member of said group. Squeals of terror, the calling of deities and downright swearing accompanied the chaos and scattering in all directions. Something must have worked because we all came out of it with minimum injuries. Later, over beers, we all compared scrapes and proclaimed ourselves heros in the face of danger. As luck would have it I arrived smack bang in the middle of festival season. Lots of processions of Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Sita for the Hindu festivals. Brilliant colours and lots of happy smiling people trying to sell you trinkets and flowers at Gora prices. Gora literally means white. There are indian prices and Gora prices for the same items and also for getting into monuments. It is useful to think as a rule of thumb that all the prices you are getting are double to you as a gora. Negotiate always except in national monuments as the price is set. Some places even go so far as to charge you Rs 200 for bringing a camera. Take it all with a pinch of salt. Ok will continue in a couple of days - have a lunch meet with a bunch of friends in McLeod ganj at the local japanese restaurant, Sumir amongst them - truly a fab guy, musician and chilled out fella. Will tell you more about him and others next entry.