- Sauvik Biswas / autobot: 54UV1K - https://sauvikbiswas.com -

Day 3: A walk around Rishikesh

A hike to Neer Garh waterfall

Three more people came to fill the void left by the German lady and the South African guy. If there wasn’t anything interesting or something obstructing my voyage, I knew that it would be my last day in Rishikesh. I am not a religious person and find very little solace in visiting commercialised religious places. (I am looking at you, Beatles Aashram.)

The German lady had suggested me to take a small trip to Neer Garh waterfall [1], a day hike towards the west of Lakshman Jhula. Most foreigners hire scooters and drive till the base of the trekking point. It was also possible to get there on a Garhwal-Srinagar bound bus. I had to walk about two kilometres on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway in order to reach the base of the trek.

[2]

The valley beyond Lakshman Jhula as visible from the highway.

A notice-board mentioned that the fees for the trek was thirty rupees but I was unable to spot anyone who could accept the payment. There were a lot of workers, though. The initial stretch of the road was being laid out with tarmac under the government’s Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak scheme. Migrant workers had set up tents on the sides, which were covered in a thick layer of dust—courtesy of vehicles that moved over the partially constructed road. However, I had avoided the road completely in favour of a steeper and shorter trail that cut through the winding road.

Beyond a point, the motorable road turned away to connect to the Rishikesh-Tehri highway and the only way to proceed was by following the steep trail. It was very well maintained with proper steps and resting spots. The shopkeeper at the top of the trail mentioned that a lot of trekkers visit the waterfall during the summer and autumn season. Some even hike a further ten kilometres and reach Kunjapuri temple [3].

[4]

Midway point. The shop was closed.

[5]

The lone shopkeeper at the top of the waterfall.

[6]

The Neer Garh waterfall emerges out of a small cave and collects in a man-made pool below before flowing down.

Triveni Ghat

I did not walk all the way back. Instead, I took a shared jeep from the highway that dropped me directly at Triveni Ghat.

I was busy taking photographs when one of the guys who cleaned ears came near me and asked if he could clean my ears. For some reason, I agreed. He did a pretty good job for a nominal price and managed to remove a lot of junk from my ear canals. It felt like my ears had suddenly opened up. Did it improve my hearing? I don’t know.

[7]

Sadhus like these wandered around the ghats and slept at dharmashalas.

[8]

Some people had come to offer puja before marriage at the ghat. They had brought an entire band to accompany them.

[9]

[10]

A lone heron taking flight.

Walking, observing many faces of Ganges

From Triveni Ghat, I took an auto back to Ram Jhula. Right before Ram Jhula, there was a ferry service that dropped me off at the other end (Jonk road). After that, I walked all the way capturing as many interesting photographs as possible.

[11]

This ferry transported me from one side to the other for just ten rupees.

[12]

Rafting is a popular adventure sport in Rishikesh. The water was not turbulent enough to enjoy the thrill of white water rafting. It was more like kayaking on an inflatable boat.

[13]

Some foreigners were practising their yoga / acrobatics on the banks of the river.

[14]

Sadhus and locals consuming their entertainment on a smartphone. They were watching Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan [15].

[16]

This mural at Lakshman Jhula police station caught my eye.

[17]

It was surely marriage season. A groom was being transported in a horse carriage. He was also escorted by an entire arsenal of dancing relatives, hired musicians and lighting guys much to the amusement of foreigners.

I took my dinner at Little Buddha Cafe—a small shack overlooking the river. It was a pure vegetarian Tibetan restaurant where I enjoyed some thukpa and a mushroom dish. The lack of proper light contributed to the ambience as well as to the ambiguity of what I was consuming. Whatever it was, it tasted good.

[18]

This is the brightest photograph of Little Buddha Cafe that I could take.

The area near Lakshman Jhula is where most foreigners, backpackers and hippies come and stay. I found innumerable places that taught yoga and meditation, each claiming to have some kind of ancestral authenticity exclusive to them. As such it was impossible to say where an aspiring yogi should really go to. In the end, these places ran themselves like any other business with a strong online presence and a decent marketing budget. There was a demand for which the locals had created a supply and had established an ecosystem to facilitate the fulfilment of the same. Customer satisfaction was the key—did the centre put their customers’ minds at rest? That’s what determined the success of these centres.

[19]

Day 4: Long way from Joshimath [20]
Day 2: A day trip to Haridwar [21]