Rishikesh - February 2006
Our trip to Rishikesh was a journey of spiritual enlightment yet an
adventurous one. Upon arriving at Delhi airport we were whisked into
two cars and started our journey to Rishikesh. The drive from Delhi to
Rishikesh was about 7 hours. Delhi is a city that never sleeps,
busting with activities.
We arrived at the ashram in the wee hours of the morning. Dayananda
ashram is a spiritual ashram haven, resting serenely on the bank of
the holy Ganges River, nested in the lap of the towering Himalayas.
The ashram provides a clean, pure and sacred atmosphere to thousands
of devotees. The serene ashram, the flowing Ganges, the majestic
mountain embrace and rejuvenates your entire being.
After a couple of hours of rest, we headed for the town which consists
of Ram and Laxman Jhoola. `Jhoola' which means bridge is a huge bridge
across the Ganges River connecting two sides of the river. You will
find yourself meandering through a bustling market place of merchant
with ethnic arts and handcrafts. Most of the ashrams in Rishikesh are
located along the river bank. Rishikesh has developed into one of the
better known centers for schools of yoga and meditation.
The next day, we left for Haridwar which is about 2 ½ hours from
Rishikesh. It is also well known for several religious retreats and
for the availability of treatment for a variety of stress- induced
ailments using meditation practices and ancient herbal techniques.
Here the mighty Ganges comes down to the plains of India from the
Himalayas. Amongst the many pilgrimage towns situated along the length
of the holy Ganges, Haridwar is arguably the holiest in the land. As
we arrived in Haridwar, scores of people can be seen dipping
themselves in the holy Ganges. Millions of Hindus come here every year
hoping to absolve their sins by bathing in the holy Ganges. As the
sun's last ray reflects off the boundless water of mother Ganges, we
gathered for the Ganga Aarti. The Aarti- an ornate oil lamp, lined
with dozens of flames burning in pure ghee is offered to God. This
divine light ceremony is filled with song, prayer, ritual and a
palpable sense of the divine.
On the third day at dawn we were dropped off at the foothills of the
Himalayas. The air was cool and we started our hiking to the Kunjapuri
temple which is a 8km trek and is located at the hill top. As we made
our way slowly but surely, we were in awe by the breath taking scenery
of the Himalayan mountains. As the sun rose, the panoramic view of the
mountain peaks is a sight to behold. After about 4 hours of hiking, we
arrived at a school run by villagers. Our group came prepared and we
happily distributed goodies to the children. The excited children
gathered to greet us and they even sang and performed a folk song and
dance for us. We bade farewell and continued our journey on foot, it
took us another 1 ½ hours to reach the Kunjapuri temple. As we made
our final lap reaching the steps of the temple, there were sighs of
relieve and excitement among our group. Relieved that we finally
arrived at the hilltop after 5 ½ hours of trekking. The Kunjapuri
temple has a view of the Himalayas. The awe inspiring beauty of the
snow capped mountains offering comfort and inspiration for the body,
mind and soul.
The next day we all gathered to go white water rafting. Everybody was
in high spirits as we were driven 18km up stream along the Ganges
river. As we put on our life jackets and head gear our guide explained
the safety precautions that we need to know. We got into the raft and
made our way down stream. All along the river bank, ashrams and
temples could be seen. The clear flowing Ganges water was ice-cold.
Under the able guidance of our guide, we battled against the rapids.
It was really a thrill to watch the waves making roar and rising up to
slap you in the face and drench you wet. I was so trilled to watch the
activity of the river which for sometimes was silent and then suddenly
turned violent. While passing through the course of river one can
enjoy the sights on either side of the river. After about 2 hours of
rafting we arrived down the stream.Of course our arms were aching from
all the rowing but everyone agreed they would want to experience it
again if time permitted.
On the last day in Rishikesh, we headed towards Devpyrag. Here, the
exhilarating Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river meets to form the holy
Ganges river. We were prepared with our bottles to collect the holy
water for family and friends back home.
It was our last day in Rishikesh and I felt a tinge of sadness leaving
the ashram and the holy Ganges which not only rejuvenates ones entire
being but also uplifts the body, mind and spirit. On our way back to
Delhi, we stopped by at Cheetal Grand restaurant and gorged ourselves
with the local cuisine.
We arrived in the hotel at noon. Our hotel was located behind a
shopping heaven. The street was filled with shops. We all went off in
different direction for our shopping spree.
On the last day in Delhi, we went on a half day city tour as
scheduled. Our first stop was at the Indian Gate which is the memorial
building in commemoration of 70 000 Indian soldier who perished in
World War 1. Our next stop was at the Bahai Temple. Is a very recent
architectural marvel of the Bahai faith. It is lotus shaped and open
to all faiths and is an ideal place for meditation and obtaining peace
and tranquility. Most of us opted far more last minute shopping and
decided to cut short our scheduled tour.
Having return to Malaysia, my mind and soul was left with memories of
this wonderful spiritual journey. My soul's desire to return to
Rishikesh is driving me to make another trip soon. Rishikesh is not
only an abode of great Yogis but a sanctuary for soul seekers and
spiritual upligtment. One who set foot in Rishikesh will immediately
feel the peace and tranquility around. The cosmic energy is pure and
powerful that one will definitely experience a lot of peace and
happiness within.Many have testified that setting foot on the soil of
Rishikesh has healed many sickness and diseases of the body and the
mind. It has definitely healed a physical pain that I was having for
the past 30 years. Believe it or not! Seek and you shall experience on
this holy land.
We are organizing the next trip on September 17th - September 24th
Prof. Dr. Dhilip Kumar Ph.D, Dr. Sc.