29 Mar 2015

Rishikesh, where wishes come true

Rishikesh travel

Ever since the Beatles dropped by for a visit to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram, Rishikesh has catapulted to Western fame. Located in the Dehradun district, Rishikesh is a small town in the state of Uttarakhand. Popularly known as the World Capital of Yoga, Rishikesh is a home to numerous yoga centres that attract tourists from all over the world.

I write for a travel column in a national daily and my boss asked me to do a cover on Rishikesh. Set on the fast lowing Ganges and surrounded by forested mountains, Rishikesh is a spiritual town located 24 kms upstream from Haridwar. I reached the town in afternoon and after a fulfilling lunch and a nap session, I set out to explore the Place of Sagas in the evening. Triveni Ghat is the confluence of three rivers namely the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswati. A beautiful breeze blew down the valley setting the temple bells ringing as the priests clad in saffron clothes started the night aarti. I was mesmerized by the beauty of it. Pilgrims and tourists flocked together to pray and for a moment it seemed as if science was all wrong and God was above all. The locals in Rishikesh believe that whoever takes a bath in the water of the ghat is set free from all his sins.

Next morning after a quick breakfast post the morning aarti, I set out for Lakshman Jhula. It is a 450 feet long iron suspension and is one of the most prominent landmarks of Rishikesh and is made over the Ganges to cross the river. There are many popular belief related to this bridge. It is said that Lakshman crossed Ganges on jute ropes and the bridge has been built on the same lines. The view from this bridge is spectacular. In fact, there is another very common belief that once again brings Ramayana and Rishikesh together. It is said that Lord Rama carried out his penance in Rishikesh for killing Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. On the east bank of Ganges at Lakshman Jhula is the Trayambakeshwar Temple, which is 13 stories high and houses different deities. Tourists make it a point to visit this temple and no exception was I.

If there is a bridge dedicated to Lord Laxmana, wouldn’t it be strange if there isn’t one dedicated to Lord Rama? Well, the Ram Jhula is situated 3 km north of Rishikesh. Ram Jhula is a recently constructed bridge connecting Shivananda Ashram and Sawarg Ashram. The fresh air and the music of the flowing river just add to the beauty of the place.

My fondness for yoga wouldn’t let me miss visiting the Swarg Ashram and it was amazing. My solo tip to Rishikesh was not just delighting but also infused my soul with a spiritual high. I now feel the rightness of Rishikesh being called the spiritual ‘ground zero’ by not just men of today but also in the age old scriptures of Puranas.


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