(7) To Rishikesh, the holy land of yoga - Visit the holy land of the upper Ganges, made famous by the Beatles' stay in the city.

Rishikesh Buddhist Columns & Dharma Talks

(7) To Rishikesh, the holy land of yoga - Visit the holy land of the upper Ganges, made famous by the Beatles' stay in the city.

After three days in Haridwar, I headed to my next destination, Rishikesh.

Rishikesh is located about 40 km north of Haridwar. It takes about an hour and a half by car to get there.

It is further upstream from Haridwar in the Ganges and has long been known as a place where yoga practitioners gather. More than anything else, it is famous for the fact that the Beatles stayed here and composed their music.

If all went well, we would have arrived in an hour and a half, but that's India. But there was a huge traffic jam.

I don't know what causes it, but a traffic jam suddenly starts on an otherwise ordinary road. In other words, the traffic jam continues from far beyond where we cannot see the road ahead.

Moreover, the traffic jam was chaos itself. Normally, this road is at most two lanes wide on each side of the road. But what do you think? On our side of the road alone, there were almost four lanes!

There was no such thing as a lane as each of them would rush head first into the other. If there was a gap, they would rush into it! This is the norm in India. The driving skill of the Indian drivers who slip through at the very edge of the road is astonishing. They drive so close to the edge of the road that it is almost frightening to me. It is just a matter of an inch. One would think that they are not afraid of crashing their cars, but they are not. Everyone is already driving a car that is covered with scratches and dents.

I managed to get through the traffic, but it was no longer going to take me an hour and a half to get there. I was exhausted from the Haridwar flight, and I could not imagine how painful this delay must have been for me. At this point, I was already in a tight corner.

Arrive near Rishikesh.

Even the road to the center of town is one lane in each direction. This would be very difficult if there were traffic jams. In fact, the opposite lane has been this way for a long time.

We got out of the car in the center of Rishikesh and finally headed for the Ganges.

We came to the riverside. Like Haridwar, the Ganges has a lot of water in the rainy season. It is said to be crystal clear and beautiful in the dry season, but we could not hope for that.

Cross the Ram Jhullah Bridge to the other side of the river.

The other side of the river looked more like an approach to a pilgrimage site, with souvenir and food shops lining the road. And just like in Haridwar, people were bathing in this muddy stream.

And here, too, motorcycles rush through narrow alleys without regard for people. There is no room for complacency. These bikes have become an Indian specialty in my mind.

Rishikesh is also a city that worships Lord Shiva, who is closely connected to the Ganges River. Shiva is also the god of yoga.

I went to several temples after this, but unfortunately none of them left much of an impression on me. The Haridwar I had seen so far was too intense. Rishikesh seemed to me to be a bit too light. Or perhaps I had already become accustomed to seeing such simple Indian scenes.

But the primary reason seemed to be fatigue. I no longer had the strength and energy left to experience fresh joy. All I could think of was that I wanted to return to my lodgings as soon as possible.

But this was not the time to leave. I headed further upstream to the area where the Lakshman Jhuler Bridge is located. However, there were almost no people on the road here, and the atmosphere was desolate. There is a reason why it was deserted.

Here in Rishikesh, the flood of 2021 caused catastrophic damage. The Lakshman Jhuler Bridge also collapsed at that time.

Due to the flooding, this neighborhood is still a ghost town. This used to be a lively place where many Westerners used to gather. The bridge is currently being repaired, but it will be a long time before tourists return.

And I am supposed to observe the evening puja again today. Three nights in a row. So, what are the differences compared to Haridwar?

A statue of Shiva meditating in the river in front of the temple. A puja is performed in front of this statue.

Unlike Haridwar, today's event was held inside a temple, so I left my shoes behind and walked barefoot. However, it was also raining on that day, so I had to walk in the water. I felt that the cold water was slowly taking away my body heat and strength.

Thankfully, however, my guide had a special seat reserved for me. He took me to a place in the hall where there was a roof. This was a very nice thing to do. It saved me from being exposed to the rain.

Moreover, the location of the pooja was right behind the Brahmins who were in charge of the pooja, so I was able to observe the pooja in full view.

While Haridwar had loud music playing through speakers, this was all live music. Also, while Haridwar had catchy melodies with impressive female vocalists, this one seemed more like classical Indian music.

Here is the music band and its equipment.

Then, as the ritual reached its climax, more fires began to be lit. The fire was further divided on trays and passed to the surrounding pilgrims. Then all the pilgrims proceeded in unison toward the river and held up the fire to Shiva. The fire was then passed around by hand, and everyone present offered prayers in this manner.

Compared to Haridwar, it is really calm. There is no rush here like in Shuraba.

But I suspect this is due to the fact that this place I am in is a special place. Only invited guests and those with special connections can sit here. Not everyone is free to watch the show here. It is difficult to say that the puja in Rishikesh was like this only by looking at this place. But what I can say for sure is that I was lucky to be able to see the puja here.

By the time I returned home, it was nighttime. As expected, I'm at my limit. My head hurts. I can't move anymore.

When I arrived at the inn, I lay down as if to collapse. Let's go to bed early today. With the last of my strength, I prepared for bed and went to bed.

You have done well so far.......take a good rest....

But India attacked me as if mocking me.

Yes. At last, it had arrived.

India was not sweet. I was about to be baptized in India.

Next Article.

Click here to read the previous article.

Related Articles