Published: January 14th 2008November 22nd 2007
I have now left the delights of Delhi behind and I am now in the lovely, beautiful and peaceful location of Rishikesh in North India, near the foothills of my beloved Himalayas once again and the location for Yoga, Ashrams (The Beatles were here in the 60's).
To get to Rishikesh, Judy and I overnighted in Haridwar
, a less touristy town close to Rishikesh and a pilgrimage site in its own right. Haridwar is regarded as one of the seven holiest places to Hindus.
"According to Hindu mythology, Haridwar is one among the four sites where drops of the elixir of immortality, Amrita, accidentally spilled over from the pitcher, in which it was being carried away by the celestial bird Garuda. These four spots -- Ujjain, Haridwar, Nasik, and Allahabad -- have today become places, where the Kumbha Mela is celebrated once every 3 years in any of these 4 places and after a period of 12 years, the Maha Kumbha Mela is celebrated on the 12th year at Prayag in Allahabad. Millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate here from all over the world to celebrate the event. They perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river
The spot where the nectar fell is considered to be the Brahma Kund at Har-ki-Pauri (literally, "footsteps of the Lord," and symbolically the footprints of the Amrita), the most sacred ghat of Haridwar; thousands of devotees and pilgrims flock here during festivals or snan from all over India to take a holy dip. This act is considered to be the equivalent of washing away one's sins to attain Moksha" (sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haridwar)
We spent an afternoon visiting temples via a cable car up the steep hillside overlooking Haridwar. "Mansa Deva Temple is situated at the top of Bilwa Parwat, the temple of Goddess Mansa Devi, literally meaning the Goddess who fulfills desires (Mansa), is a popular tourist destination, especially because of the cable cars, which offer a picturesque view of the entire city. The main temple houses two idols of the Goddess, one with three mouths and five arms, while the other one has eight arms" (sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haridwar).
The Hindus defiantely know how to extract monetary support from their worshippers. Whilst completing a circuit of the temple at several shrines you would be given a Tikka mark or blessing for which a donation of rupees
No photography is allowed in the temple itself but after complete a circuit we were looking at some stalls and as I took photos the local stall holders, a small group of guys kept pushing one guy forward to have his photo taken. It was a great photo opportunity but I think the action of his friends was more to do with my marital status than for him to have his photo. I had been given a string band around my wrist which when given it was put on my right wrist indicating I was unmarried.
On the night we decided to go and watch a movie at the local cinema, we proved to be a bit a novelty at the small regional cinema as I guess they are not used to Western tourist watching a movie. It was a good evening even if we didn't really understand the movie and had to peer through think clouds of tabacco smoke to see the screen.
Though there was a few more sights to be seen in Haridwar we decided to move on sooner rather than later to Rishikesh as the hotel accomodation was somewhat seedy to
say the least and it was highly likely we would become stoned on the fumes for the Gange smoking Sadhus that lined up in the morning outside our hotel windows.
We got the local bus across to Rishikesh and managed to find a lovely little guest house on the hill above Laxshman Jhula part of Rishikesh
with beautiful views of the Ganges River, an azure ribbon through the green hills surrounding Rishikesh and its Wedding Cake temple!
On the 5 days in the Laxshman Jhula area I completed Reiki Level 1 training - so now can hopefully heal myself of the dreaded Delhi Belly when it strikes again which I am sure it will!!! Nope not escaped that one. Also did lots of Yoga (2 lots of 2 hours a day) and Meditation too and though I really ache in places I did not know I could I am feeling more supple and healthier and made some new friends in the yoga class.
Anyway I am about to go out of contact again for 12 days as I head up to an Ashram to do 7 days of intensive Yoga, Meditation and Chants Course followed by a
5 day silent meditation retreat. OK don't laugh too hard on that last one - I know me silent for 5 days!!!!!!! Anyway it is a beautiful looking place - see website if you want see www.phoolchattiyoga.com though schedule is pretty tough going but quite looking forward to it and should come back either supple, relaxed and chilled out or a achy gibbering wreck....
There are more photos below