So I’m back from a whole bunch of traveling. I wrote a bit about the palces I was going to in my last post. Ideally, I would have liked to write a post each about each of the palces I visited simply because they do warrant a piece each. But with going-away day barely a week away, I’m hard pressed for time and therefore I’m going to make it short.
First up my Mumbai trip. I love Mumbai and I was thoroughly pleased to see that it hasn’t lost any of vibrance in the last 5 years that I’ve missed it. I got to meet some friends and generally had a lot of fun visiting places I had not been to when I was living there. Unfortunately we couldn’t catch a show at Prithvi theater but we did catch some good coffee in the historic theater that was started by Raj Kapoor. I got to meet this awesome entrepreneur buddy of my friend and also an old friend of mine who I’d lost touch with. Some shopping and cocktails and yummy maharashtrian food and great company – ingredients for the fun-est time ever!
Haridwar: This was the first stop on my trip. Reason for being there is simply the Ganga. Of the 2 days we spent there, one evening was spent at the ghat watching the evening aarti which is really really beautiful. Haridwar’s ghat or bathing area is built for just bathing. There are stairs leading into the river while a part of the river itself is channeled to flow through a narrow-ish area with bathing stairways flanking both sides. I’m not doing a good job with the description, but the picture below should explain. The first and only way to describe this palce is crowded! There are multitudes of devotees thronging to the banks of the Ganga to wash their sins or take blessings (like me). I did not go there as a devotee – this was hardly a pilgrimage. But the sight of the river and kind of faith that people have for Ganga Mayya (Mayya = mother) kind of makes the whole experience a reaffirmation of faith. Save for this, my view of Haridwar is being crowded, old-world and a little dirty. I guess it’s typical of any Indian pilgrimage town.
Rishikesh: This is about 20kms from Haridwar. Here the Ganga is more placid and cleaner. She is also a lot deeper here. The symbol of Rishikesh is the Laxman Jhula which is a bridge spanning the Ganga. The other side of the bridge is home to the temples and ashrams that play host to the scores of devotees who throng Rishikesh every day. This part of the town is really quaint and is a pedestrian-only area. In true Indian style, there are beggars and cows jostling for space among the devotees and shop keepers who sell you everything from precious stones to Ganga in a bottle.
Devprayag: I haven’t got much to say about this places since I spent only an hour or so here. Devprayag is the confluence of Alaknanda and Bhagirati rivers that then flow downwards fromt here as the Ganga. Bhagirati is the more placid of the two while Alaknanda is faster, with a roar that can be heard some distance away. At the point of confluence, you can see the two rivers distinctly, differentiated by their colors.
Haridwar - Those are real people!