Since Rishikesh is so close to Delhi, it was only an eventuality that I was
Since Rishikesh is so close to Delhi, it was only an eventuality that I wasgoing to wake up one weekend, surprise my flat mates, sacrifice our precious sleep, give in to my completely erratic nature and take one of those Dil Chahta Hai-style trips to Rishikesh.
The plan was to visit the Beatles Ashram for its beautiful graffiti and ruins, sit by the mighty Ganga, discuss the heart-wrenching topic of the extinction of the Gangetic dolphins and make our way back to Delhi. However, my unpredictable and spontaneous nature led us to a bungee jumping venue near the river rafting camps, 7km away from the town.
I have always had a love for terraces, high-rise penthouses, mountains and flights. So it’s safe to say that I have absolutely no fear of heights. Little did I know that I was about to rethink and perhaps add a new fear to my repertoire.
I re-evaluated my love for heights a million times in those 12 minutes it took me to climb all the way to the top of the tower from which I was supposed to hurl myself off – putting all my faith in a rather flimsy-looking bungee cord. The signboard there read “83 metres” and never was a mere measurement accompanied with such a knee-shaking, fear-inducing view. It was a windy day, and I could almost feel the wind carry all my confidence away with it.
As if the decision to bungee jump wasn’t foolish enough, I made the mistake of looking down to see where I was about to land and what I saw really put the fear of god in me. I could see pebbles and stones at the bottom of a clean, languidly-flowing Ganga. “Don’t worry; the river is only 60 metres deep” assured my guide. This assurance, unfortunately, didn’t do much to bolster my confidence.
I said goodbye to my friends and took the leap of faith, and felt as though my heart had stopped beating! In that adrenaline-fuelled moment, when all I could hear were my own screams and the wind whooshing past, it felt like I had my own little conversation with the gurgling Ganga. Just like people bathe in the Ganga to wash away their sins, I felt like the jump was washing away every little frustration that I had ever felt. It was over to soon, but my soul felt liberated and I was quiet the rest of the day.
After the jump, I watched the sunset from the banks of the Ganga. I sat there, smiling to myself, listening to the sounds that the river was making as it was flowing past, hoping that this was her way of responding to my conversation from earlier that day. The jump had lasted only three seconds. It cost me ₹3,000, but gave me a memory that will last me a lifetime.
Where to Stay
The Glasshouse on the Ganges (Cell: 09412076420; Delhi Tel: 011-46661666; Tariff: ₹8,500–15,000), on the Badrinath Road, is the most luxurious. Aloha On The Ganges (Delhi Tel: 011-46520000; Tariff: ₹7,500–16,000) in Tapovan is one of the best stay options in Rishikesh. It offers amazing views of the River Ganga, a delectable buffet spread and great service. Hotel The Great Ganga (Tel: 0135-2442243, 2438252; Tariff: ₹4,000–9,800), is right above the Badrinath Road and offers a panoramic view of the Ganga. The hotel has a multi-cuisine restaurant. Hotel Ganga Kinare (Tel: 2435243, Cell: 09015544000; Tariff: ₹5,000–15,000) located on Veerabhadra
Road, has 38 rooms and a restaurant, and organises adventure activities. GMVN has three well-maintained and comfortable guest houses. Bharat Bhoomi Tourist Complex (Tel: 2433002; Tariff: ₹990–2,500) is on the Dehradun Bypass Road. Rishilok Tourist Complex (Tel: 2430373, Cell: 09568006684; Tariff: ₹330–2,090) at Muni-ki-Reti has similar facilities. Ganga Resort Tourist Complex (Tel: 2438651; Tariff: ₹3,648–4,998), also in Muni-ki-Reti is located on the banks of the Ganga. Another budget option is Green Hotel (Tel: 2431242, Cell: 08171077111; Tariff: ₹1,200–4,500), near Ram Jhula.
Where to Eat
Almost all eateries in Rishikesh serve pure vegetarian food. Alcohol and meat are not allowed in the town. The landmark Chotiwala Restaurant serves traditional food. You should definitely try a meal in Hotel The Great Ganga’s restaurant. Health freaks should visit Ajay Juice Centre, which is located near Ram Jhula. The German Bakery at Lakshman Jhula has interesting dishes such as yak cheese sandwiches and fruit pancakes. Anna Café offers delicious food. Café Delmar offers sumptuous Indian and Asian gluten-free vegetarian fare. Ramana’s Organic Café serves fresh organic salads and tasty desserts. Little Buddha serves Indian and Israeli fare. Honey Hut offers good coffee and cakes.
Air Nearest airport: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun (22km/ 45mins) is served by Air India, Spice Jet and Jet Air from Delhi. Taxi upto Muni-ki-Reti parking-lot at Ram Jhula costs approx ₹1,600. From here you need to cross the River Ganga by motor boat (₹10) or by foot along the footbridge
Rail Convenient railhead: Haridwar (25km/ 45mins) which is connected by the Shatabdi Express to Delhi and Dehradun. Taxis can be hired here or you can take a 1-hr bus ride to Rishikesh
Road Bus Night buses leave from Delhi’s Kashmere Gate ISBT for Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun. Fares to Rishikesh range from ₹350–742
When to go All year round, though it gets a bit muggy during the monsoons. September to June is good for whitewater rafting.