This is my first travelogue, I will take you on an ecstatic journey to heaven or god’s own land Uttarakhand specifically RISHIKESH, NEELKANTH& HARIDWAR.
My language and writing style would be simple so that it is interesting to read, so please pardon me for my mistakes. But believe me it will be fun to read till the end.
12 July, 5:00am
With a loud roar of “bam-bam bhole, our car starts. The roads were clear, with no read lights and jams to wait for.
My Sony ear phones are plugged in and sallu bhai’s kick songs start bumping in my ears, because I am a big Salman khan fan, and these new songs are quite cheesy as well. First place I can recollect ,where I removed bhai’s(kick movie) songs and stared at an approximately 9yr boy, on NH-58,in muradnagar.This boy is with a sac hung on his head, the first thought that strikes my mind is why is he not in a school uniform, why is he not preparing himself for school, I felt a little bad about him but as human memory is short, I start enjoying the vegetation on both sides of road, from the closed car heading to our destination at about 120km/hr.
As time pass and we move toward Meerut I find both good and bad things.
Good things are that the scenic beauty is enhancing and young boys waiting for their school buses don’t know this scene made me recollect my old school days.
Bad things is that we encounter our first jam, at around 7:30am, once we reach the epicenter of the jam, I find a heavy loader truck in a crushed condition, with stains of blood on the road, further during our travel, I find three more crushed trucks, it made me little frustrated of the Uttar Pradesh police (calling the “police” is disrespect of the word) and second the careless attitude of the drivers. Somehow, by breaching traffic rules, our driver makes a way on wrong side and crosses over the jam epicenter and again attains the speed of 120km/hr.
Now we reach somewhere near Meerut and my parents decide to have fuel for our stomach. Yummy house made food. The food was lip smacking and clean.(”maza aaa gaya yaar”).
Again after straightening our legs, we again start our journey.
As we cross Meerut and then muzaffarnagar, the condition of road starts worsening.
One way road accommodates both sides traffic, asking my driver why the condition is so bad ,he blames the samajvadi party and praises mayavati government,”saab jitni bhi road hai vo mayavati ki vajah se hai”,
Not getting into politics, switch on my Google GPS,just to see, how efficiently it works, I find it 80% authentic, because some streets mentioned were not present in reality, in the mean time we reach roorkee,first thing we encounter is the army camps on both sides of the road, it was a large area being occupied by the army, with big board’s praising army for its efforts in uttarakhand tragedy. Next I noticed on right side of the road IIT campus, though these days people don’t give a fuck if you are an iitan.(I also don’t give a fuck either in case it wasn’t clear). Here we encounter our second jam, starting from the roads near army camp, somehow we successfully cross the area.
Our journey continued with green covers on both sides, I never noticed the places , which we were passing but an interesting thing I noticed was the people with orange colour clothes, on open side of the road, later my dad told that they were the reason for our jams, these travellers are known as kanvaria’s.
Now what is kanvar yatra or kavad yatra??
The kanvar yatra is annual pilgrimage of devotees of Shiva known as kanvarias, to Hindu pilgrimage place of haridwar, rishikesh in Uttarakhand to fetch holy water of Ganges river.
The yatra takes place during sacred month of shravan (sawan).
My dad told most of these were from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, but then the driver added to the discussion by saying,”sahib ye sab charsi(drug addict) hai”,I was actually amazed ,because if they were “charsis” why were they presenting themselves as holy,
But okay, the problem they created for us were jams, we started encountering frequent jams because the so called UP police had almost blocked one side of the road.
“ROUTE TO RISHIKESH”
Last what I remember is we enter haridwar, but we had planned first to visit rishikesh, so we did not halt there and continue our journey. After 20 min of entering haridwar I first time saw the holy Ganges, maybe near harkipauri. It was huge, simply huge, scenic view was amazing, but the place was totally mismanaged still the view of the river was mind blowing. From there I suppose rishikesh is approx. 20 km, the time we should have taken ought to have been 20 minutes but it took 1 hour to enter rishikesh. First thing which I encountered was a travel agency board advertising river rafting and my mind started planning, how I would convince my dad to let me do it, because our a schedule was packed, and we had to visit some preplanned places and come back.
Ok moving further, we reach a junction where a local policeman diverted our car to a bypass to lakshman jhoola (our first destination).
Here we reach lakshman jhoola. Our driver parks the car in the parking as we get down from the car we encounter a travel guide but on the advice of the driver (who had visited before) we deny the guide’s proposal. A word of caution, “THERE IS NO BNEED OF TRAVEL GUIDE TILL YOUR PHONE HAS GOOGLE”.
Now our aim was to reach the lakshman jhoola, after taking our clothes with us we reached there, which is about 800 metres from the parking area.
“What is lakshman jhoola?”. “Lakshman jhoola is an iron suspension bridge situated in rishikesh made over river Gangesacross the river. It is said that lakshman crossed Ganges on jute ropes between the place where this bridge is built, it was built in 1939.”
The thing about lakshman jhoola is that it shakes due to wind and load of people. This iswhat makes it different. I also tried to jump on it and I found it to be true. It is always crowded due to visitors and the local people. The bad thing is they have allowed the vehicles to pass through it, two wheelers allowed to pass through it and if you are a VIP a Lamborghini you can take your over it. But let me tell you the view was actually exhilarating, first time seeing Ganges so closely the flow was actually “thundering”.
We clicked some photographs & decided to reach the bank of the river below the laxman jhoola, we crossed the bridge, & took the stairs on the right side to move down,& reach the bank for holy dip. I mentioned the word holy because according to Hindu mythology Ganga water is the purest, but for me it was a thing at adventure and show off, to get down through the bank& show my swimming skills.According to Hindu mythology, you wash all yours sins, once you take a dip in the holy water. I was excited & a bit nervous, I removed my clothes, but I was more focused to get down the stairs & swim in the river. I gave my phone to my brother, to click some pictures of the brave attempt. Brave because there were only 2-3 people hear the bank as the flow was quite fast, still showing that I knew swimming I got down. Let me tell you the water was bone chilling more than I had thought it to be , but I got down more stairs with my mom & dad screaming don’t go far deep ” I was moving down with caution, to my knowledge water was up to my chest, & I was not able stand , because the flow was fast, still I managed & took my first dip in the holy water, following I took some more dips, Irealized it was difficult to stand and I would have moved further, I would have been swept array with water , & I have wanted to attempt such an act of bravery . Because the water was too fast for swimming so it was better to stand here. I was the only human present so deep in water, later a local man advised me to catch hold a rope which was fixed on the bank, otherwise I would be flown away with the river water, I shouted toward my brother standing some distance apart to click some photos of mine, with different poses, all I was repeating 1 more click& after some 10 click my brother went back I had to come out of the holy Ganges. The water is too fast to swim & cold as well .Do Not Try Stunts as they are no life guards or power boats to save your life”. I changed my clothes & was ready to go beach, but again before going beach got clicked some more photos. We took holy water on my mom’s advice back with us in a bottle, we referred to the parking were our driver was waiting for us. When I told dad about my plans of river rafting, but the driver interrupted in saying “Sahib River rafting band hai Uttarakhand government ne ban lga dia hai “ damn UttarakhandGov. , had washed about all my plans , & my main purpose of trip was denied, later the driver told me ideal months for rafting are from April to June. Then my dad decided our second destination which was Neelkanth situated about another 18 km, on the other side of river. We started our journey .99% of our journey was on revolving round, moving towards the beach. I forget to tell about the Neelkanth, (Neelkanth mahadev temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Neelkanth(lord Shiva) .the temple is situated at 1330 metres)nature at its best , only green colour was visible to my eyes .we have elevating to the peek, suddenly the local policeman stop us , and I was like what the f***, we are getting late ” the time was 4 : 00 pm in the evening our driver got off the car , they took him to their boss , I have thought some cheering was going on , but later he returned after( 3min) .dad asked him what happened , he told , they are registering the cars moving to Neelkanth, this was just for counting & precaution measure after the last year tragedy.
Our journey started to the top, the view was extremely thrilling one side was river, other side the mountains, and in between some waterfalls as well.
On some mountains, people had cultivated paddy, which was adding to the view.
There were sign boards of “beware of elephants”, it was an area full of wild elephants, the driver told that entry is restricted after 7pm due to presence of elephants. The road did not have barriers and if were a novice, it was a risky game.
A word of caution “drive only if you are an expert and please visit only during the day time, as the roads to the top are not having any street lights or barriers and there is high risk of accident”.
Admiring the beauty ,we reach the top at around 5pm,again after a certain point, the normal vehicles are not allowed,approx. 1.5 km from the temple, and you have to walk barefoot from the parking.
I mentioned the word normal, because if your car has a VIP tag or you are using the local travel agents vehicle, you will be allowed further with your car. We got down from the car and started to walk forward the Neelkanth temple.
The road on both sides was covered with vendors selling various stuffs, though of no use.
But view was amazing from the top.
There was a huge crowd heading toward the temple.
And here we reach temple premises; the temple is surrounded with local vendors selling “Prasad” and other things. They cover new visitors like buzzing bees, “madam/sir remove your slippers here free of cost & in return you have to buy something from our shops”.
Let me tell you the place was totally mismanaged, without any signboards, showing which way to take, actually the temple is covered with shops allaround it and there is scarcity of police personnel.
Somehow with the help of other pilgrims, asking our way to temple stairs we joined a long queue to the shivling, the point of attraction, the thing to surprise was that there was no metal detector ,no checkpoint put in place by the police, the lives of the visitors is at the helm of god. Loudnoise of “bam-bam bhole”deafened our ears. I would like to mention one thing ,this is not to be mentioned but still(some social duty)
Due to human encroachment, a lot of non-biodegradable plastic waste has been dumped in the temple premises which are actually a thing of concern “.
The place is highly dirty due to presence of plastic bottle and poly bags are littered all over”.
There is no management of waste by the temple administration or the police. Somehow moving at a snail’s pace we reach the main shivling,we express our wishes infront of the god and exit the temple , on our way back we clicked some photos, and reached back our car at around 6pm.now it is decided to conquer our last destination, back to haridwar, for our last holy dip.
“WAY BACK TO HARIDWAR”
Before heading back ,I would like to mention about an incident, on a handpump,an old woman was facing difficulty to drink water, I voluntarily helped her &in return she gave me blessings “beta tera bhagwan bhala kare”and ,don’t know why that sentence , made me happy .Ok now getting back to our journey we reached our car, and straight away, told the driver our next destination, which was haridwar, we were in hurry because, the time was around 5:30 pm and we wanted to see the prestigious ganga aarti,which is a daily ritual after the sunset around 7:15pm,
Driver had already mentioned “sahib aapka aarti dhekna toh mushkil hai”
Actually the way is approximately 40km,which should take 1:45min maximum, but due to overcrowded roads it would take 2hr 45min,and there were chances we would miss the aarti .nevertheless, with positive mindset we started our way, this time it was easy because we were descendingfrom the peak, though it was risky, advised driver not to hurry and drive with a comfortable pace. Again admiring the view we started our journey back, crossing all the jams we reached haridwar at around 8pm,the sun had set, but nevertheless we had to visit the ghat for “holy dip” for me it was again a matter of showing my swimming skills and muscled body(though it was night time).
There is a parking in front of harki pauri.it is a popular ghat on the bank of Ganges. From the parking the ghat is approximately 700m,and you have to move straight, on our way I enquired some policemen about the way and also if taking dip was allowed at that time ,his reply was “yes sir” and I was happy because ,this had solved our purpose to visit the place, otherwise we had to stay overnight, which we wanted to avoid, Moving forward we reach the ghat(bank of river),There are staircase near thebanks, which will descend you to the main stream.
Believe me the firstview of the river wads scary ,loud noise of the thundering stream, thedarkness, and No Life guards, “first holy dip” could be your last “holy dip”, and you could straight away to heaven, whichnone of actually wanted,”yaar abhi toh mai jawan hun aur abhi toh sirf 2 pack bane hai, six pack ban jaye ,then I am ready to make girlfriend ;-).
Coming back to our journey, I straightaway removed my clothes, and went near to the flowing thunderous waters, believe me the scene was amazing “the dew ad came to mymind”darr sabko lagta hai , gala sabka sukhta hai”,still I got down in the flowing stream, actually ,there is a chain being fixed to support the people taking dip, though it is not safe ,hence beware.
Ok now about my holy dip:-
Let me caution you that the water is cold, though the outside temperature was approx 32°c, the temperature at water was 23°c, the sensation was amazing, I got down, deep till the water was up to my chest , I had clung the iron chain ,become the flow was first again I never wanted to try stunts at that point of time. I took same 3-4 dips continuously meanwhile my dad & brother had come, I cautioned them, about the flow & they also took the holy dip , later I got myself clicked inside water . We changed our clothes, & got over the bridge, which is used crossing the river, we got some family photographed clicked as well.
“I found a lot of smokers, speciallysmoking some sort of drugs (charas), some of them were lying down on the footpaths, may be they were in a different world, actually the thing is there is no civil administration to curb such defaulters, there scene are open on the ghats, and it is said foreigners visit the place, to enjoy such drugs but nevertheless we got back to the parking and now our destination was delhi,time was around 9pm,
We were hungry and needed food urgently, the thing was we wanted to eat at bikarnerwala or bicano,unfortunately there was none such restaurant in the vicinity ,our driver told, these restaurants start appearing once we Enter Mujhaffarnagar, about 80 km, from Haridwar. Controlling our hunger, we started our way back, but unfortunately we couldn’t find a bikarnerwala in our 1 hr journey, so our car stopped at a local dhaba which served us some food to curb our hunger, actually we were satisfied with the food, because we were hungry. Though the food was pathetic, at last we had ordered the tea, which was unavailable and we decided to have it later on our way.
Now some interesting thing about the roads back to Mujhaffarnagar from Haridwar. The road is single road, without street light, and on top heavy trucks heavy trucks rushing to their destinations. Actually it is NH-58, though I was surprised seeing the condition of roads of our national highway. Let me tell you it is an accident prone highway, so beware, plan drive with utmost caution.
I should call our journey adventurous, became of risks roads, no street lights and on top of it, our driver was yawning, after the heavy dinner. Actually I was sitting in the front seat along with him, believe me, a person who hasn’t slept for 23 hrs & is driving a car, nothing can be worse from that.
Now using my psychological knowledge, I started chatting with him to engage his mind & also switched on same (bhai’s) Salman Khan Movies high beat songs, so that he doesn’t doze off.
Believe me the risk was very high, somehow we reached muzaffarnagar our car stopped at a dhaba for tea, the tea was actually very good & life saver as well. Our driver washed off his face & had tea, I felt a bit relaxed, but not totally relieved. We got some tea packet in our thermos & started our journey. On our way back I found 3 trucks which were down to accident at modinagar & ghaziabad .the scene was actually scary because some accidents had taken place recently & driver was inside the trucks cabin , but who bothers to stop , we were in a hurry & we continued our journey .we entered Delhi passing Meerut , modinagar,moradabad , ghaziabad & dilshad garden. the good thing we were safe ,though our driver was lacking sleep , still we had to cover 30 km, we encountered two police check post, which we checking for wrong element, I would live to mention , they were performing there dusty well. Continuing our journey, we reached back to our home at around 2:35 pm. The journey was successful we were safe back home.
Some personal advice. If you want to start a journey from Delhi to rishikesh plan to start around 10 pm in the night, so that you can travel whole night, without traffic jams & reach the place in the morning to enjoy the science beauty of the police. Take an expert driver, because the roads are risky due to continuous heavy vehicles transit on the road. Don’t have food at the local dhaba; try having it at same good network. If you are an adventure sports try going in the month from Feb to June because rafting & other sports by the government in the monsoon season. This portion of up is totally mismanaged, no civil authorities, improper police function & not so supportive state tourism department. Please avoid contact any unknown person as they might loot u
At the end I would say, my journey was refreshing & adventurous. I care to know how big nature is & how small we are intent at the nature. I would like to finish it up by saying & travel to here places often, to explore how big life is, it is beyond your imagination, beyond your belief & beyond your limits. This is my first write up, so please count. I would love to be read your comments. Thanks for reading