Rendezvous with Rishikesh – and I conversed with Ganges greens and blues! - by Peeush Tomar

Year 2015 had started and I was still to sustain my nomadic reputation...the “long-weekends” calendar had been lying low on my desktop, like an ignored child, prudent and not too happy about being left alone! The yearnings were getting stronger by the day and I was restless! And then the Holi splashed across, bringing in a plethora of colours and a celebratory atmosphere; in midst of these happy times, I received an invitation from Anubhav (I would call him my jinx breaker, the catalyst) for a post Holi bash in none other than Rishikesh. Godsend...absolutely.

Now Rishikesh has been a part of my life at various occasions; so the excitement didn’t have an obvious reason...well, maybe yes; just the thought of a weekend immersed playfully into the waters of Ganges was a reason enough; more so, “the silly me” had never indulged in the famous rafting at Shivpuri and I guess the waters were reminiscing me finally! I quickly said a yes to him, though had a feeling; a little apprehension as everyone was going to be an unknown face to me in this trip...then I said to myself, what the heck; to explore the unexplored has always been my mojo...and I was gearing to go.

The pleasant goose bumps, just with the thought of the trip, didn’t let me sleep much and I was there, the only punctual one, standing in the chilly breeze of early Gurgaon morning! I spoke animatedly with my shadow under the warm streetlight till I had a company.

Here came Anubhav and to my delight, never felt I was meeting him for the first time. And then followed a few more enthusiasts: Energetic Dhrubo, Smiley Ni Mo, Lively Saumitra along with his lovely extended family: Full-of-life Shweta, cute little Bhavansh, the newlywed notorious Aditya and chirpy Komal and Uncle Aunty, the absolute yin yang J...We started the trail, wasting no time except for pleasant introductions!

The cars marched merrily towards the destined God’s abode, while encountering eventful roads, little hiccups, delicious parathas and pakoras breakfast near Modinagar, yet never knew what was in store for us...the journey simply took our breath away!  We took the less-trodden Ganga canal route in search of serenity and we were rewarded with more than we craved for. The sun played mischief by emerging and hiding amongst gorgeous trees; the lilting mist engulfing the canal, added to the mysticism of the surroundings...we proceeded, bewitched and full of expressions, clicking randomly. Every picture, amateur or professional, turned out to be a postcard click naturally! Sight of few rare birds was an icing on the cake, engrossingly captured by the pack.

All good things are to last but then, a new story had almost already begun; from the mesmerising canal route, we entered further into the wilds of Rajaji National Park...truly, the nature is bountiful and impresses in various forms and frames; the figurative trees, the grasslands and the sky canvas! We saw all of them and quenched our thirst for solace-like beauty.

The roads curled and twisted, almost as restless and eager as us, to reach our hub: Aspen Camps and Resorts. The hospitable staff welcomed us with smiles and we trailed downhill to reach our camps in waiting; our camps were well appointed, lovely plush beds, each having its own washroom, thankfully! Absolutely recommended with brownie scores!!!

And, so the sojourn continued...all of us embarked towards a scintillating waterfall nearby! We couldn’t resist the magnetism of pristine, free-spirited water and one by one, everyone was plunging in...What fun! The heavy falls almost worked like acupressure to the tired bodies, rejuvenating them to the core and adding to the gleam in all eyes. The little dhaba next to it complemented the environment with a joyous fragrant tea. We came back to our camps, only to be pleased more! The evening was being set in a mood for letting loose...the DJ enthralled all by playing in some merry tunes and we tapped our feet to the infectious rhythm till wee hours in the night followed by lovely songs and happy tete-a-tete! The starry night and the eclectic moon defined the night better and paved way for a brilliant sunny morning next.

We woke up, so content with the cosy slumber and excited to face what was in store for us further...god! I was almost about to raft through the notorious rapids of mighty Ganges in no obvious, each had one’s own aspiration and we were only four: Ni Mo, Adityaraj, Komal and myself to idle away towards the river with our able companion Aditya Antal from Aspen! Rest all decided to bask under the sumptuous sun rather, sipping on their drinks or simply lazying away. So off we went and felt jubilant in the rafting gear! We felt almost like warriors on a mission J literally.

The freshness had a divine form in those inviting green waters of Ganges, almost about to touch us with nirvana...we animatedly hurried in, following a dos and don’ts from our raft guide. The cold waters splashed on, bringing out the play in us...we loved our adventure; the fun rapids, the twists and twirls of water, the almost falling-in encounters and then the best part – we were hung onto a long rope and were left splurging in the rapid, almost like in a zero gravity, almost meditative state...I spoke to myself then, the waves enveloped me, like a cosy embrace and all of a sudden, the divinity charm of these holy waters stuck me! Away from the mundane mechanical lives, that’s Ganga for us, the spiritual epitome of our lives, the purest of feelings and emotions and a reason to stay away from the ordinary sense of being.

With new radiant energies flowing in, satiated with the steaming hot maggi and tea on the rafting halt-in island, we were back to the pavilion and off to our resort once again! We found all others to be away exploring the city Rishikesh, so newly cosmopolitan, a melting pot of various Indian and global cultures and no longer just a pilgrim...the city has opened arms to so many in search of the unknown, the inner peace and definitely does not disappoint! 

But that’s another indulgence...will need another space, another time to dwell into! We all had our intentions met, got to know each other more, and came back, no-longer strangers but with a common thread of belonging: Wanderlust and Rishikesh.

A trip to remember, definitely! More trips together, certainly...bon voyage!

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