The (holy) city of Haridwar is a religiously important destination for Hindu travellers (pilgrims) across India. Considered as the entrance of river Ganga into the plains, its also know as Gangadwar. Haridwar is constructed around the river Ganges (as Ganga is known in English) with multitude of ashrams & temples on the banks of the river.
Click here for the official website of Haridwar.
My biggest mistake for the day was to ride through Hairdwar’s main bazaar road (i forgot to note the name). ‘The beast’ occupied most of the available road, left aside by the numerous pilgrims & locals who were flooding the street. The crowd was not a surprise considering the spiritual importance of this town in the Hindu mythological map. A quick stop at Har-ki-paudi was next in our amoebic tour plan. Few snaps of the crowded ‘ghat’ (meaning: a fleet of steps leading to a water body), we set of for Hrishikesh. A quick brunch and some 20 kms of driving, we reached Hrishikesh 30 mins late for the first rafting trip. Manu decided to raft while i stayed back at Lakshman Jhula for some quiet moments with my self.
Hrishikesh – history
Rishikesh means, Lord of the senses – indicating Lord Vishnu. They say he appeared here to Raibhya rishi’s (monk’s) prayers. Also, Lord Ram – an incarnation of Lord Vishnu stayed here to repent his killing Ravana. I was more interested in the second story as it says about the God who observed penance for killing his enemy! – something to invest your precious thoughts on.
During my last trip to Hrishikesh, i had my share of adventure & fun with rafting and trekking. This time, i was searching for something else – something which i never knew or found. Thanks to Rahul, my fellow traveller during my last trip, i knew the right place to spend the next 4 hours waiting for Manu. By the side of Lakshman Jhula (Lakshman bridge – where Lakshman, brother of Lord Ram, crossed River Ganges on a jute rope bridge),there is this German Bakery flocked with foreigners more than Indians. Some coffee, a ‘beedi’ borrowed from a lady (an Austrian staying at an Yoga Ashram near by) and a book was my secret combination to unlock the 4 hours in 4 minutes.
During the time i spend at German Bakery, i spend some time observing the people around me. As expected, a large part of them were tourists – both domestic & international. Everything around them got captured in their compact camera. Many of the domestic tourists looked like monkeys while climbing the railings of the bridge to get their picture clicked. Only the monkeys were too smart to ask for (and sometimes snatch) food in return for their pictures. Majority of the international tourists had beads & vermilions on them. Most of them were here in search of peace or relief from some bodily pain. Later I came to know that international tourists attending Yoga & spiritual classes is a multi-million dollar business here. Me and the Austrian lady who shared the table kept looking at the crowd for a long time.
Just as i started reading my book again, a curious incident made the people around me laugh loudly. I looked in the direction of their stare to see a very interesting sight which made me laugh for the first time in many days.
The Matador Monkey & the Lakshman Jhula bull fight
Humans, honking two-wheelers and Holy Cows roamed on the narrow Lakshman Jhula. Atop the the railings & cables holding the bridge, there were a pack of monkeys displaying their gymnastic skills. Sometimes begging and sometimes snatching food from the travellers around the bridge, they spend their time with more fun than most of us. Its pure ill fate of our poor hero (of the incident), a black cow, to cross the jhula (bridge) at the precise moment when the ‘matador’ monkey (the villain of the scene) was looking for some fun. In a moment, the monkey was atop the cow, holding onto the visibly irate cow. Our poor ‘holy cow’ (Cow is sacred in Hindu mythology) tried its luck to shake the villain off her body in vain. In this attempt, the cow almost rammed into the tourists attempting to cross the narrow bridge amidst this chaos. But the monkey, with its arms & legs spread apart, held on to the angry cow with ease. This ‘bull fight’ went on for few minutes with the cow trying hard to shake off the monkey. Honking of scooters & howling of the scared tourists added spice to this curious incident. After couple of minutes, the monkey leapt on to the railing of the bridge, far from the reach of the mad cow & stared at us, as if he just woke up from his meditation. It was a rare view – a natural bull fight on a narrow Lakshman Jhula.
Manu was back from his rafting trip, all excited and exhausted. I was surprised, as usual, by his energy levels. Last time i did rafting, my friends and me literally crawled to the hotel and today, Manu was running around like a 6 year old on his first visit to the beach.
A quick lunch and we were off to our next destination – Mussoorie. About this leg of the trip, i shall write some other day. Till then, Bon Voyage!
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