Friday, October 4, 2013

The Rishikesh Story

waiting to take the boat to the other side of the river

Who says growing old is bad when the celebrations that come with it leave you with memories to be cherished for life. This is exactly what happened at one of my husband’s friend’s birthday this year. Though his birthday was falling on a Monday, it was decided to make a quick camping trip to Rishikesh on the weekend before.

enroute rishikesh
halting at the drive in food court on the highway

Since I had been on a camping trip with school before and remembered how much it was, I was really looking forward to experience the same this time with my husband and friends. On Saturday morning a group of eleven fully charged young boys and girls started the journey to Rishikesh. We had hired a tempo traveller which was abundantly stocked up with snacks and drinks for the journey. Halting at various places for various reasons we finally reached Rishikesh around 3 in the afternoon. The to-be birthday boy met the camp organizer who led us to the camp which was located at Marine Drive. 

On the main road there were two tea stalls, which were also selling some local veggies. I was fascinated by them. While the cucumber looked huge and different, the okra’s colour was a lighter green as compared to the dark ones that we commonly get in the cities.
Making a downhill trek followed by a boat trip to the other side of the river and a walk for another 500 metres from there, we finally reached the camp.
the downhill trek
the tents at the camp
I did a quick reconnaissance of the camp; it had little black tents lined up in a row; each could accommodate two persons. The toilets too were made in a tent, with empty pails hanging on a log of wood outside. Besides the log, was a big tank filled with water to be used for the toilet. There was another tub with a tap in the front, filled with water, with soap next to it for washing hands. A small mirror with a plastic frame was hanging on the bark of a tree (I wonder if anyone used it at all). 

Ten feet down from the tents, was a shamiana (tent) where the meals were to be served. The place also had a charging point which was really moody, so none of us really bothered charging our phones which had near dying batteries at that time of the day. Towards the bottom of the camp, the river was flowing, the mountains looked lush and green, there were huge boulders to sit on and enjoy the view.
the view from our camp
Placing our luggage in our respective tents, we had a late lunch at 4. Post lunch, even though the sky got a little dim these boys’ spirits didn’t.  They prepared themselves for a game of volleyball. I too volunteered. However, soon realising that I am pathetic at playing it and that I am only spoiling the fun for the boys, I decided to fetch the ball for them whenever it went beyond the court (I can’t simply sit and watch :p).

lantern lit party
As soon as it got dark, each tent was provided with a lantern. At night we turned the volleyball court into a party area. A table with chairs around it was set up. Lanterns were placed as a centre-piece; we enjoyed the freshly made chicken pakoras (fritters) with drinks. A friend’s wise decision to carry cottage cheese (paneer) with him, gave us a chance to enjoy the delicious paneer tikka (grilled spiced cottage cheese) prepared by the camp staff. The absence of a music system gave us the opportunity to enjoy our drinks and starters over never ending conversations, songs with customised lyrics and a lot of laughter. Misunderstandings were cleared and a lot of lessons were imparted to the marriageable bachelors by the only bhabi (sister-in law) of the group. We all raised a toast to the to-be birthday boy. After a late night lantern lit dinner we retired to our respective tents for a slumber to wake up early for another session of volleyball followed by rafting.
morning session of volleyball game

The next morning everyone was up and wide-eyed by 7 (it never happens at home on a Sunday morning :p). The boys sweated themselves out, after which we all had breakfast. Soon after that we packed our bags, loaded them up in our vehicle and proceeded for rafting. The rafting was to be done on a 26km stretch. All of us were given life jackets, helmets and safety instructions; Paddle forward to go ahead, paddle backward to go back in order to avoid a rock and fast forward to paddle fast during a rapid. All of us took our assigned places given by the instructor. The experience we had was just beyond words. Every time a rapid came we got ready locking our feet in the raft as instructed, with the “bring it on” fervour in our hearts and excited expression on our faces. The rapids had different names like golf course and roller coaster. After the initial one or two rapids there was a fight for the front two seats, however after crossing another few rapids, when everyone started to get tired, seats were changed mutually. The places where the water was still we jumped into the river and swam around the raft.
image source: google(we weren't carrying our phones or cameras with us but this is how we had looked while rafting)

After two hours of rafting we reached the point where cliff jumping was taking place. It was also called the “maggi point” since there were a few local people selling maggi, tea and biscuits there.  My dear husband who had otherwise enjoyed his backseat during rafting, was the first one to order food for everyone :p. While five of us in the group challenged our guts and jumped into the river from a 15 ft high cliff, the others enjoyed a small waterfall near the cliff. After devouring the maggi we finished the remaining 40 minutes of rafting and finally got down a few metres away from the laxman jhula.
cliff jumping (image source:google)

We had booked two rooms at the New Bhandari Swiss Cottage in rishikesh, to change and freshen up. Since we had to start our journey back home by 4 pm we quickly bathed and enjoyed a delicious meal at the restaurant in the cottage. The restaurant was clean and the ambience was quite simple. The outdoor seating area was covered by a canopy of creepers keeping the sun away. We ordered for a vast spread ranging from tandoori chicken (roasted chicken) to thin crust pizzas. The lovers of Chinese cuisine didn’t shy away either. Everything tasted fine. The food was rightly spiced to cater the foreign tourists visiting there. While some found the food bland, I liked it. For desserts we ordered for pancakes and cold fruit custard. The former was just about average, I enjoyed the latter more. All in all, eating at the restaurant was a good choice.
new bhandari swiss cottage (image source:google)

At four in the evening we started our journey back home. Keeping the amount of activity that was undertaken throughout the morning, I had expected everyone to doze off. However a game like dumb charades can turn the most enervated souls into chirpy ones. Hence the game kept us up and entertained for the entire journey. At 10:30 pm we finally got dropped home. After meeting and greeting the family and sharing our wonderful experience with them, we reached our room and crumbled into our bed in no time.



before taking the downhill trek

reaching the spot to take the boat to the other side of the river

chilling in the morning while others sweated themselves out

view from our camp at night


  1. Very interesting travelogue .Thank you for sharing .jk

    1. thank you :) and i am glad you enjoyed reading it.

  2. Truly great piece of writing..Places to visit in Rishikesh offers something for every traveller. Be it adventurous sports or serenity of natutre.

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