A weekend dip in the Holy waters
Warning: This is not a travelogue. This is merely a log of our trip to Mussoorie, Haridwar, Neelkanth and Hrishikesh.
Finally after many fruitless plans for weekend trips, we started off in an Innova at 3:30 in the morning. There were 7 of us. Me, Davis, Eldhose, Nitin, Mayur, Rathee and Sharan. It is only after we started off from the Jwalamukhi hostel(only because they had a majority of the people involved and not because it is in any way superior to Satpura) we started talking about where we wanted to go. Apparently our Anil bhaiyya was ready to go anywhere. So it took us only a minute to decide that we go to Mussoorie first. And the trip begins.
Phase 1: The Dhabha
Our first stop was at a dhaba. This was something that was particularly interesting to me because I have only seen these roadside dhabhas in movies. Of course, the “thattukada”s in Kerala are a different thing. The dhaba was sufficiently clean except for an excessive amount of “Makki”(Housefly). We had some toast and tea from there.
Phase 2: Mussoorie
The way to Mussoorie was beautiful. The road passes through what looks like a forest. We passed a few streams which at places were laden with beautiful pebbles. We reached Mussoorie at around 11. Mussoorie is quite a beautiful place. The view from on top is quite something.
The first place that we went to was the Kempty falls. We had a light meal there. Even though the meal was light, the cost was not so. A maggi alone cost around Rs40. After the meal we started going down to the falls. We had two choices. Either we could walk all the way down or use the rope way. We went for the rope way. What was supposed to be a long and dangerous journey across the mountains, (we did suppose so considering the ticket rate was Rs.80 per head) turned out to be a small one that ended in about 2 minutes. The waterfall was, in comparison, a small one. Water was flowing down a cliff about 20 feet high and about 15 feet wide. There was a pool like formation under the falls were we (along with a lot of other people) jumped in. After spending an hour or so trashing around in the pool and pulling legs, well, literally this time, we went to explore the rest of the setup there. There was an adventure sport which they had named flying fox(or something of that sort) in which you wear a Superman t-shirt and then they tie you to a rope and then send you flying along the rope across 2 hills. Rathee was the only one, in his own words, “brave and rich enough” to try it out.
After the falls, we climbed up and went to the Mall road. People pronounced it “Maal road”. This, in a way turned out to be true.(If you know what I mean ;) ). It was a shopping street at quite a high altitude. The view down hill was simply awesome. It was moderately cold and was a welcome relief from the scorching heat in Delhi. We spent a lot of our time (and money) at a shop where they taught magic tricks. One Magic trick involved him asking us to pick a card from a seemingly normal set and telling us which one it was. After a few successful guesses by him, Mayur spotted some one standing behind us. He took the man (who seemed utterly confused) by the shoulder and took him away and came back and asked our magician to perform the trick again. The fun part only came in when he continued to successfully predict all of our cards and finally telling us that the trick involved reading marked cards.
We ate whatever kind of snacks that the place had to offer us. Golgappa, chat and things that I don’t think even have names. We then continued our journey to Haridwar.
Phase 3: Haridwar
We reached Haridwar at around 9 P.M. We stayed at a dharamshala there were they provided us with 2 rooms, a few beds, a bathroom and food for the night. The plan was to wake up at 4 and proceed to the temple to watch the “Aarti” there. In fact, part of the plan succeeded. And the part that succeeded was that we managed to wake up at 4 (I should probably add it to the list of miracles that happened in my life, considering). But we reached a tad too late and missed the Aarti.
The Ganga snan was the next part. I decided to stay out of it. In my defence, the water was freezing cold and I did not find it very clean. But the others did not seem to mind. And by “others”, I mean around 5000 people from different parts of India.
After most of us had washed away our sins, we were off to fresh start. Next destination: Neelkanth.
Phase 4: Neelkanth
The view from around the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple was fantastic. But the smell not so. The temple premises are really unclean and people seemed to take extra care in keeping it so. It was a long walk from the place were our car was parked to the temple. On the way we saw a kid dressed up as Shiva himself and giving out blessings in return for change. There were also some women doing the same. Then they swear at people who did not give them any money and doomed them to hell. On a philosophical note, it exactly mirrors how religions usually work. At the temple entrance, there was a small waterfall in which people were having bath. Some collected the water in cans. It turned out later that the waterfall was man made and the water supplied through pipes.(At least that is what the ones who went inside told me).
Phase 5: Hrishikesh
Note: This phase does not include any kind of adventure sport, water or otherwise.
We stayed only for a couple of hours in Hrishikesh before we started our journey back. There we saw Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula, two hanging bridges. The highlight of our visit here was the lunch from Chotiwala restaurant which is quite famous for its thali. Each of us ordered a North Indian Thali which was quite good considering its vegan nature. The moment our waiter let slip that everything except the ice cream was unlimited, we stopped eating everything else and started concentrating on the Paneer :). The food and service were excellent. If you visit Hrishikesh, don’t miss this place. And order the North Indian thali.
Outside the restaurant, there were 2 men dressed as pundits, complete with painted faces and hair in a top knot, sitting on chairs, as mascots for the hotel. We saw people touching their feet and ask for blessings. I guess, in a place like this, almost everything is considered holy.
Phase 6: The journey back, Kerala and Baba Ramdev
Somehow Kerala became the topic of discussion of our journey back to IIT. I think it started with whether Kerala is more beautiful than Mussoorie. I should probably not make any comments on this. One good thing that evolved out of the discussions is that some facts about Kerala became clear to the Non-keralites. Which included :
- Kerala has 44 rivers.
- The generic name “Madrasi” which are used to address Keralites too might be(no one was really sure) due to the fact that the northern regions of Kerala were once part of the Madras state. From a quick wiki reference, it once covered almost the whole of South India.
- Calicut and Kozhikode are both the same place. And IIMK and NITC are not that far apart.
On the way back we made a halt at the Ashram of Baba Ramdev for a few minutes. It resembled a park lot more than it resembled an Ashram. We were running out of time and resumed our journey.
Phase 6: YAPD (Yet Another Punjabi Dhabha) :P
The journey that started with a dhaba ends with one too. This time we chose a dhaba opposite the one were we stopped last time. The chai here was good too. They also had these coir cots along with the chairs. Again a new experience for me. Can’t imagine a “thattukada” with provisions for sleeping anywhere in Kerala.
Finally the trip comes to an end and we go back to our routine life of classes and assignments. The experiences did help me assure that the time I had taken to rethink my religious preferences has not been wasted.
PS: If you think we missed something, we probably did it. It is just that writing about it is not a good idea. ;)
PS: Some of the statements are “inside jokes”. Bear with me if they bored you. Some one else might actually find it funny.
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