Prayag in Sanskrit means ‘confluence’. Prayaga also means ‘a place of sacrifice’
The weekend travel itch happened again, this time its Devprayag!
For a change, this trip was quite unusual compared to my earlier escapades. The final destination was fixed (Devprayag) and the dates as 18th & 19th of August. Beyond that we hardly planned! Also, beast (my four wheel drive) didn’t join us in this trip.
Manu, my co-traveller and me decided to travel on 17th night but we left Gurgaon on 18th morning, blame it on our lazy butts & sleepy eyes. But travel gods were gracious to bless us with rains on our way immediately after Muzaffarnagar. We finally sneaked into Uttarakhand under the cover of heavy rains & a cold breeze.
pic: a majestic ride!
After Muzaffarnagar, you will find kids selling Jamuns (berry) on the roadside. Honestly, we were impressed by their efforts to make pocket money & under the influence of their cute smiles, we ended up buying enough Jamuns to exercise our mouth till we reached Rishikesh.
pic: the Jamun boy
The road felt like a ‘teleport’ taking us back into time. During our trip we encountered countless modes of transportation, some (like the tuk-tuk) are near perfect examples of an ‘imperfect ingenious invention out of necessity’!
pic: tuk tuk!
pic: and a school-“tonga”-bus (on our way, in Uttar Pradesh)
Pit stop for the night happened at Rishikesh. Rishikesh has never been more beautiful. Rain clouds kissed the mountains on the opposite banks. Our plan for Rishikesh was as usual – sit at the German Bakery drinking coffee and staring at the Laxman Jhula & the mighty Ganga flowing underneath it, followed by a walk on the other side of the river till Ram Jhula. This time, Manu wanted to try the famous Chotiwala restaurant at Ram Jhula.
Manu found a great & cheap place to stay for the night near Laxman Jhula – Hotel Damini. For Rs.500 (INR), we got a non-AC room to settle for the night overlooking Ganga.
pic: view from hotel in Rishikesh
Sitting in the balcony, we had to shout at each other, to communicate, over the sound (read music) of the mighty river flowing over its rock bed. AC rooms are available for Rs.1000 (INR). We saw quite a number of hotels on the river bank (one above German Bakery too). But we didn’t want to waste time & money for few hours sleep. A late lunch followed, at Hotel Radhika (at Laxman Jhula, on the main road), highly overpriced, ‘smallest’ portion size & not so good quality food – it was a disappointment.
At German Bakery we met two tourists, two gorgeous ladies from Delhi, doing a weekend escapade. They were searching for a ‘Beatles Ashram’. In spite of my frequent trips to Rishikesh (almost every two months), i have never heard or seen the Beatles Ashram. We also met an Israeli tourist who have been travelling for 4 months in North India.
A quick search on my phone told me that Beatles had been to India for meditation few decades back and stayed at an Ashram which is today known as Beatles Ashram. Today its in ruins and entry is restricted by government (as its a government property now). I also found a video about the same in YouTube. I would try to visit this place while i head back to Delhi or its a sure-visit on my next trip! A big thanks to the girls, they told me about a new place & unknowingly reminded me that ‘you can never know a place enough in a lifetime’!
Both Laxman Jhula & Ram Jhula are narrow bridges across Ganga, suspended on steel cables and sways with the wind. I never run out of excitement when i walk on these bridges. There is an uncertainty in every step – the bridge is never where you anticipate it. Sometimes a little left to where you plan to keep your foot, sometimes a little near! As if its urging me to bring that excitement of uncertainty into my monotonous life-in-a-city.
Rain gods showered again while we headed to Ram Jhula. A guy in a plastic rain-coat came along with rain like a package. For Rs.40 (INR) we got two disposable raincoats to save us from getting drenched. On our way, we saw the Swargashram (from outside).
pic: Manu & his raincoat
There are two Chotiwala’s run by brothers and we chose the one away from Ram Jhula. Manu had his dinner here, which he didn’t enjoy much – all famous restaurants are overhyped :: our conclusion.
pic: in India, do cows pray? (or take shelter in a temple from the rain)
We walked back to our hotel to get ‘high on the flowing music of Ganga’. Goodnight for the day, an early morning awaits us to continue our journey towards Prayag!
read the second part of the travelogue here: http://wp.me/p102cN-5P