Rain and Rivers

Trip Start Jun 13, 2005
Trip End Dec 05, 2005

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Our second day in Rishikesh was fantastic: we met Andrew, another guest at River View, and together we crossed Laxman Julha Bridge to walk through the town on the other side. The two bridges in this town look slightly out of place to me - a bit anachronistic: they're both huge, steel suspension bridges which look straight out of somewhere like San Francisco; the buildings nearby on either bank are guesthouses and temples built into the hillside, their architecture ranging from 'dated' to 'another-era-completely', and they don't match the bridges at all. We walked along the river footpath and spent an hour sitting on some rocks, cooling our feet in the FREEZING Ganges.

In the evening, a much-welcomed downpour cleared the air of haze and dust, dramatically improving the view of the mountains and cooling everyone down. After the rain, we crossed the bridge again, to watch the aarti which happens every evening at a temple on the riverbank. It's a Hindu devotion - I don't know much background but it was fantastic to watch: singing of Hindu chants, much clapping and arm-waving, bright saris, the wind off the river.... an amazing atmosphere that's next to impossible to try to relate.

I didn't book my onward ticket to Gangotri yesterday..... so here I still am!

The most refreshing thing on a stinking hot summer day is a walk up a mountain - provided you know there's a rock pool awaiting you at the top. Rishikesh is known as the yoga capital of India, and the town is full of ashrams, yoga centres and private yoga teachers. It was one of the latter, with whom Michal is taking lessons, who directed us today to the opposite bank, where we found a shared jeep to take us to the footpath up the mountain; half an hour later we were relaxing, fully-clothed of course, under a little waterfall in a gloriously cool, crystal-clear rock pool. Never let it be said that linen trousers aren't multi-purpose!

There was a huge thunderstorm this morning, but its cooling effect hasn't lasted long and we're back on overheat mode already. However, we should consider ourselves relatively cool, as the Times of India reported today that six have died in Delhi's heatwave.

I went back to the bus stand this morning to book a ticket, one day ahead as instructed, to be told that tickets for Gangotri are only issued after 4.30pm and that I'd have to return a third time. It's no wonder travellers end up changing their plans and overstaying at each stop they make - it's just too much hassle in this weather to plan an onward journey! After the past two days of fun and great scenery, I could quite happily spend another week here but Gangotri awaits, so I went to town AGAIN at 4.30 and now own a ticket for seat no.1 on tomorrow's bus.
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