|Lakshman Jhula |
I walked to the middle of the bridge holding on to my father's hand for dear life. I remember looking frantically around to see if my mother was with us or had she toppled off from this bridge that was swinging and shaking with every footstep.The river flowed below as though expecting to carry away anyone falling on her lap. I could see the rocks and pebbles lying under the water as much as a 'looking from the corner of the eye' could enable. Looking back at that trip through the photos that are neatly stuck in an album at my parents' place, I can see a petrified child willing every body on the bridge to move away.
That was 37 years back. My object of great trepidation was the Lakshman Jhula, the famed iron suspension bridge that spanned the Ganga at Rishikesh. Revisiting Rishikesh, 29 years after that childhood trauma, I realised I hadn't changed much. The Lakshman Jhula hadn't changed either. This time, however I was more aware of the surroundings and discovered other things to do rather than stand in the middle of that trembling thing to get clicked.
Rishikesh is the place from where the river Ganga begins her journey in the plains after traversing the Shivalik mountains. It is considered as a holy city in India and has been mentioned eons back in the Puranas. There are numerous temples here, both old and new, dedicated to the many Hindu gods. Surprisingly there are temples dedicated to Bharat, Shatrughan and Lakshman, thr three brothers of Lord Rama which are not found anywhere else. Ascetics and common man, throng this place in their quest for spiritual enlightenment and peace. There are many ashrams that offer Yoga courses and discourses on Hindu philosophy. Rishikesh is dubbed as the world capital of Yoga. And it also boasts of the chanced visit of the Beatles to the Maharshi Mahesh Yogi Asharam among others which sadly is in a dilapidated condition.
It was interesting to note that Rishikesh offers many adventure activities too that can test your grit and resilience. Within the lush green hills are many trekking trails that are a delight. In fact, it is the gate to the many trails in the Himalayas. There are many organised camps on the river beach that have had people connect with nature. Waking up to the sound of gushing water nearby, chirping of birds as the early sun rays hit the earth is indeed an experience that can transport one to a different plane altogether. You could go wading into the cold, invigorating water or sit and admire the surroundings. Then of course Rishikesh has some of the best rapids for white water rafting for the adventure seekers of varied levels. It is thrilling to dip and swiftly flow with the river as it hits the turbulent water. We squealed with the shocking feel of cold water spraying on the skin first and the realisation that probably we left the stomach behind in one of those bends. Faces shining with excitement as we came ashore we were told that these rapids were for the beginners.There more serious ones up ahead that could actually test a person's courage. I quite liked the names of these rapids - three blind mice, good morning, sweet sixteen, the wall and so on. After a quick lunch we relaxed on the beach .The evening sun here is a tranquil sight as if having kept it's promise of a day full of discoveries, taking it's leave with more promises of another new day.
It was easy to see that Rishikesh lets one explore the inner self spiritually, test one's endurance and reveal a world full of surprises that were hitherto shrouded with everyday struggles.
This post was written for the A to Z Challenge.