Sept 30 Rishikesh
Last night we could see Mother Ganga from our patio – wide, light green, some areas have small rapids, as it winds around broad curves we can enjoy it from many angles. Sometimes wide and smooth, other times choppy and rocky. Some shores are sandy and some are full of huge boulders that have tumbles along with the river. The valley curves and winds and both sides are forested green. Very few buildings – it is a small town.
In the distance we could see many people coming down to bathe and as night fell we saw little lights on the river, floating towards us as people made their offerings and prayers. We could also hear the chanting and singing and drumming from the many temples and ashrams up and down both sides of the valley.
Rishsikesh is a favourite pilgrimage spot. (aside: when we landed in Delhi airport we had to fill out an entrance card and there were about 10 options. Visit family and friends, spiritual schooling, pilgrimage… were some of them. I thought – what a country – so many holy spots, that ‘pilgrimage’ is actually a type of trip purpose you can tick off on your visa card.)
Anyway – being a place where every Indian would like to come in their lifetime, it is fairly busy. SO lots of Indian tourists here, where the Ganges makes its first appearance out of the mountains. Lots of westerners too, but mostly Indians, which keeps the environment more “Indian” and less ‘western’. It turns out that yesterday started a nine day festival honouring Mother Ganga.
We keep waking up early (still adjusting to time change) which is actually REALLY good as it was cool and windy in the early morning. We had an early breakfast – masala tea, and porridge with papaya, banana, pomegranate and mango – yummy!
We took a auto-rickshaw to one of the pedestrian bridges that cross the river, as there are temples, shops and views from both sides along the river right here. We walked across the span of the river – and it is so magnificent, beautiful, – I honestly cannot put into words my experience – tears came to my eyes. And of course we are walking the bridge in line with fabulously colourful women in their saris, ascetics, sadhus, old folks, children, monks etc etc. the early morning was still cool and we had crossed over to the shady side of the valley – so we enjoyed a stroll through the small marketplace and then strolled along a small road, heading north along the east bank of the Ganges. We spotted a little path and took it down – and there She was – the river – coolly flowing past a sandy stretch. We walked down in the sand – it is pure white and sparkly and glittery. I took off my shoes and sat on a perfect rock that allowed me to put my feet in the water. I washed my face and arms, feet cooling in Her waters.
We stayed on that little beach for awhile and we will go back with my empty bottles for some water and some Ziploc baggies for this beautiful sand.
I will bring some water back with me, but I also thought I could bring some to our Hindu friends in Dharamsala. They will really appreciate this – as they may never be able to make the trip here.
My hour is up on the internet service – I will be back at it tomorrow. Tonight we sleep next to the Holy Mother, resting in the peace and tranquility of Her voice. We are relaxed, contented, happy and so grateful to be here! Namaste