Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Himalaya Foothills

This was a long and tiring journey north from Delhi in 2004 passing through Haridwar before arriving in Rishikesh after over six hours.

Rishikish sits in a narrow valley and is known as the gateway to the Himalayas.

Access to the main religious areas is by way of a “pedestrian” suspension bridge. Pedestrians though are joined by an assortment of scooters, motorbikes, cows and perpetually hungry monkeys.

There are a plethora of temples and ashrams and this is reflected in that it is also referred to as the “City of Temples” or the “City of Yoga”. The number of non-Indian visitors staying in the town is noticeable but they didn’t seem in full possession of their faculties, all I can add is that they weren’t drunk as the town is “dry”.

The Ganges is still quite fast flowing here as it exits the Himalayas and I can confirm that it is VERY cold and my hands going in the water was more than enough for me despite it being a hot summer’s day.

Haridwar is about 25 kilomtres to the South of Rishikesh and here the Ganges leaves the mountains and broadens out as it enters the Gangetic plains of northern India.

This is one of India’s holiest places and is a site for many major events with ritualistic bathing in the Ganges as it is said that it is one of four places where drops of Amrit (the elixir of immortality) were accidentally spilled froma pitcher being carried by Garuda (a mythical half-man half-eagle bird).

There is a large camp site on the eatern bank of the river dominated by a large Vishnu statue, while the town on the west bank is accessed by a large bridge. The town is packed with souvenir shops and fast food outlets and is a little disappointing as a result the whole air of the place being commercial rather than religious in tone.

Haridwar and Rishikesh photo collection:

More on Haridwar:
More on Rishikesh:

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