Holy cities of India on Himalayan slopes
About 300 km north of Delhi we’re coming to the south end of Himalayas. All of a sudden,
from the mist, like a wall, the mountains are rising.
The rich river valley of Ganges ends here or begins, it depends on how you look at it. Interesting area enriched with culture, mystic and extraordinary nature.
Hardiwar is an ancient and holy city of India. It is placed in a country Uttarakhand in the base of Himalayas. Ritual bathing in Ganges is available on some specific places.
Har Ki Pakri is in the center of the city in which the rituals Ganga Arati, dedicated to the river and the life it brings, are taking place.
The most important festival is called Kanwar Mela. Temples Shri Mata Mansa Devi Mandir
and Chandi Devi are placed above the city, on the south slopes of Himalayas. You can access them by the cable railway. Haridwar consists of four most important pilgrimage places in which the Kumbh Mela is praised. The place itself indeed has some special energy and is somehow peaceful no matter the indescribable Indian crowds.
The atmosphere of the holy town can be felt. There are multiple ashrams on the outskirts of the city in which you can stay in, but you can also learn yoga, meditate and practice Ayurvedic
medicine. In most of the ashrams, the stay of a couple of days is free and in case you want to stay longer, the prices are symbolic.
In the one I’ve visited, the rooms were comfortable and better than the hotels nearby. Next to the city is Rajaji national park in which you can find tigers, elephants, monkeys and many more animal species.
Rishikesh on the west is much more known than its holy neighbor. The reason for that is the visit from the legendary Beatles in the ’70s. They’ve discovered India, Ravi Shankar,
meditation and yoga. After that, nothing stayed the same, and Indian music has had an
immense influence till this day. Many oriental rhythms of Turkey, gypsies and the Balkans
actually have Indian roots.
This city is called “Yoga Capital of the world’. Besides the ashrams and various yoga
schools, the city has become the center of adrenalin sports. Because of its ideal location on the end of Ganges river canyon where the river pairs with a valley, many activities are
associated with water. Rafting, kayaking, zip line, trekking tracks, and hiking are a part of
offerings for adventurists. The Shivalik mountains are a part of south Himalayas and can be
seen from far away as a wall that rises above the prolific plain of north India.
Many tourists mainly from the western parts of the world can be seen in Rishikesh.
They are coming in a need for peacefulness, and spiritual growth, yoga learning and the
meaning of life. The city itself in not big and is squeezed between both sides of the
powerful Ganges. It is connected with two pedestrian bridges. Ashrams, stores, various
restaurants, and hotels can be found on both sides.
Various options of adventurism, yoga, and ashrams make an amusing mix of travelers who,
each in their own way, are enjoying everything that this terrific place has to offer.
International Yoga Festival is being held here every March.
In the north of the Rishikesh is the canyon of the Ganges river which offers a great number
of various options for accommodation. From basic camps to luxury retreats and spa hotels
with five stars equipped with swimming pools.
These places can be easily reached from Delhi. You can take the airplane from Jolly Grant, 21 km away, in the Dehradun. Flight from Delhi takes about thirty minutes. If you take the train to Haridwar it should take you about four hours and the ride itself is very comfortable (1st class). Local transportation offers a lot. From buses to rickshaw motors.
An optimal touristic stay in both places with excursions would be five days. If in need to stay longer on various yoga classes, meditation, Ayurveda, ashrams, etc. this is the best part of India for those activities.
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Translated by Kristina Ilić