Rishikesh is the yoga capital of the world. It's about an hour bus ride north of Haridwar, aside from the massive traffic congestion which doubles the actual drive time. When you arrive to the bus station to get the local bus north, every vehicle is labeled in Hindi. As most people understand the essential English with tourists, or know English completely, you say "Rishikesh" and someone motions you to a bus. For me, I reveled in my ability to read Sandskrit, so it wasn't an issue for me to locate the correct bus without assistance. It cost about 30 rupees, or 45 cents to take the trip. It's hot, and an older bus, windows down, permanent stares as people ascend onto the bus steps. Before departure, vendors climbed on to sell fruit, water and other snacks.
Tapovan is the main tourist area. There are two sides of the river. Lakshman Jula bridge connecting the two.
One of the most beautiful bridges that I've seen in my life, but equally terrifying. Although stunning from afar, it swings ever so slightly with movement, which requires lots of self talk. I don't know how many times I had to remind myself that thousands of people pass over it every day for decades, and that nothing will happen. I don't fear bridges, just the ones that move ;) Below was pretty standard, watch out for the cow, watch our for the bikes, watch out for the people.
As most know, cows roam freely. I stumbled upon this fine cow enjoying his nutritious lunch of advertisements.
I thought to myself, man, this is a great photo. Right? He stepped in my direction and looked at me. So, I took this with my phone.
Perfect, right? Well, since he remained in position, I figured I would go in for the kill for a super close wide angle with my professional camera, and then the horns came. No worries, they only caught on my camera strap briefly. Word of advice, pick a cow without horns poking up. Passed several others cows without any or with them pointing to the sides. Next time I'll just find a cow without horns and drag it into position!
Carrying my camera everywhere is something that I should do. But, it's heavy, and more often I prefer to limit my time with it. One day that I was taking photos, I was returning to my hostel to discover two boys trying to close a truck full of bricks. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. My camera was out, on, in my hands, I was ready. Really should carry it more often, eh? I wonder how many more opportunities I've missed.
With the array of everything that is Rishikesh, there are hundreds of Ashrams and yoga schools where people come to learn and teach. Here are a few images that encapsulates the essence of the area.
One afternoon, I wanted to go to the evening arti, which required some extreme walking to reach the location. It required passing through more remote areas, and lead to some beautiful and unique discoveries.
By the end of the trip, I reached the Hanuman temple for the ceremony about an hour early.
Between the time I arrived and the ceremony, it started down pouring, which required it to be cancelled for the first time in a long history. I found shelter, and a poncho merchant stopped near me to sell. He asked for 100 rupees, I told him 40, knowing he was probably ripping me off, which then he quickly agreed. I walked back to the girl I was exploring with and some other stranded people to discover they paid 40 as well. I felt like a genius. Kelsey 1, India 0. It was freezing cold and water was flooding the streets. We still had to spend an hour walking to a bridge, crossing it in the stormy cold rain, and hike up over 100 steps to the road to get an auto rickshaw to the main area. The driver told us 50 rupees between us, to which we agreed. Another guy got in, and informed us that it was only 5 rupees for this particular street's public tuk tuk. He got off first, then we followed. I handed over 10 rupees to the driver, and the look on his face was nothing less than extreme disappointment. Kelsey 2, India 0. I won again.