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Old 7th April 2019, 13:18   #1
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Default Rishikesh : Journey to the holy city

We went for this trip last month. Sorry for the late post. Sorting from 17gb of photos were not an easy task.

Prelogue.

Life was getting pretty monotonous, whether we liked it or not. So, during a routine mechanical scrolling of my mobile through topics which I halfheartedly read, something caught my eye. A quote, " When was the last time you did something for the first time? ". Even though I dismissed it at that time, it kept running around in some tab of my mind.

Later when I met with 3 of my other friends and started ranting about our btech courses and the never ending classes, projects and internships I suggested we should do something, something we haven't tried before.. any activity. We quickly came to a common agreement that we all needed it and decided we wouldn't think too much about it or else we would find reasons to back out.

So started the long and tedious process of selecting the place and the activities to do. We weren't new to this actually we had gone for several trips, treks, bike rides, which mostly had overnight or even 2 to 3 days of stay.

But it was usually the south of India. Hampi, Goa, lots of spots in Karnataka, Did I mention we were Keralites? So obviously Munnar, Idukki, Wayanad and most must see spots.

But this time we decided the place has to be somewhere North, and has to have things to do which we haven't tried before. After a brainstorming session, we decided on Rishikesh. It wasn't any coincidence but all planning.

The place had the perfect blend of what we needed. Not too touristy, had superb activities like Treks, River rafting and something I would dread and anticipate for the coming days, Bungee Jumping from a height of 83metres. Apparently, India's tallest jump. Water rappelling was on our list too.

Now it was the preparation phase, decided on a train journey to Delhi and to rent a car from there for the rest of the trip and then back to Delhi. Our stay at these places have to be improvised upon arrival, so we didn't make much plans on it.

The date was fixed, the 13th of Feb from Bangalore to Delhi by the Sampark Kranti Express. 2277kms to cover from we are to where we want to be. Fast-forward to the day of departure, the train was suppose to arrive at 10:30pm but knowing the punctuality of the Indian Railways, we would consider ourselves lucky if it arrived at all.

Part 1 :
Our side quests before reaching Rishikesh.

Traveling makes you modest, you realize how insignificant of a place you occupy in this world.


Day 1
13 Feb | Bangalore - Delhi


After packing all we would and wouldn't need and then repacking again to reduce the weight, Borrowed a camera from a friend and making last minute preparations and checking if all the tickets are in order.

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We booked our uber and waited, longingly.

After the short trip to the station and getting a quick bite to eat we boarded our train (which was right on time, making me feel pretty sheepish for thinking otherwise) and settled to our seats where we dozed of pretty quickly.

Day 2
14 Feb | Somewhere on the humming train.


Woke up with aching muscles of which I did not even know the existence of. Well to say, the RAC ticket meant that I had to share a berth with my friend. So, with the uneasiness of the bad sleep and the cold wind from the window mixed with the rumble and shake of the train, we woke up pretty groggy. Just the thought that we would reach only the next day at Delhi and would have to spend the whole day in this train wasn't that joyful too.

I took out the novel I brought along anticipating this boredom. Was a straight-up novel with love - affair - repentance - happily ever after.
Other than just getting down between stations and stretching, there wasn't nothing much to do.

The whole day we sat there hearing various conversations, screams of the chai wala and people selling all kinds of things. All I did was hear songs which I had already heard more no. of times than I can remember. Just wanted to get off the train by now.
Soon, it was night and after a modest meal we settled down to sleep, excited beyond measure.

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Chilling in the rail gaadi.


Day 3
15 Feb | Delhi - Dehradun


We reached Nizamuddin Railway station by 10ish in the morning and sprang out of the train to meet a wave of people , hurrying about their lives. After getting lost a few times while trying to find an exit, we were now outside and started searching for our rental car.

Even though we had already checked and called to confirm with our rental booking, we didn't recieve any calls from their side and at last when we did, our first option which was a Volkswagen Vento wasn't available.

Disappointed and angry we decided to book from a different site and at last settled with a Ford Freestyle with an 80/km speed limiter, which was heartbreaking for us but alas our choices were less.

The car was relatively new with less miles on it and for the four of us it was pretty spacious too. We stowed most of our luggage in the boot with the exception of our camera bags. We were instructed not to take the vehicle to Leh by the guy there, its part of their rules and to take NOC certificate if we were planning to cross the state, which we most certainly have to.

The vehicle had a reverse parking camera ( which soon would be covered with soo much mud that it would render useless ), touch display with built in GPS which is somewhat accurate but not as much as google .

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And after a quick freshen up, we loaded all our luggage and stopped only after quite a long distance to have tea and get the NOC done, or maybe it just felt like quite a lot because of the limiter.

On our way we saw the famous "Mountain of Garbage" , at a glance it looked like an ordinary mountain with an extra ordinary amount of crows circling it but by closer inspection the gigantic waste accumulation is clearly visible. They just can't dispose it off because of the sheer amount of plastic in it which can't be recycled. We passed by it quickly but the image is still etched in my mind.

The road to Dehradun was quite terrible, construction of roads, bridges and a full downpour of rain was not helping either. We had to drive slow with our wipers at the maximum. Ford was pretty comfortable and the light clutch made the job a bit easier. Our car looked as it was straight out of a rally, with only the windshield partly visible.

We had to reach Dehradun by night and check into a hotel and vacate it by 5AM to reach the Dehradun Railway station by 6AM for our pickup by the trek tour group, which is known as "Himalaya Shelters".

Day 4
Feb 16 | Dehradun to Nag Tibba Base Camp


The wait was long at the station, they took their merry time in arriving or did it feel like that because of our anxiety, I was not sure.

We boarded our tempo and started our journey to a small village known as Pantwari, we have to pass through Mussourie to reach there.

After a short break at a restaurant where we had a hearty breakfast of aloo and paneer parathas which were quite amazing with coffee, It was just what we needed to start the day off. The drizzling stopped by now and rainbows started to appear and along with it, the cold started creeping up.

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All of us bought a pair of gloves (We had no Idea of its zaroorat then, can't even imagine what we would have done if we hadn't bought this.)
We resumed the travel to the village, the roads till there was pretty decent and the views were quite amazing.

We reached the village and after a quick briefing about the trek, possibility of ice at the top and trek coordinators, we started the trek to the base camp which was 4kms away.

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Our guide, Bachan ji.

We started the trek at last. Soon the views were starting to change quickly but it was getting pretty hot too because the sun was directly above us and it was almost noon. Even though all of us had packed lightly and kept the rest of our stuff inside our car itself, it was too exhausting too soon.

Progress was slow too because the views were soo picturesque, we had to stop every 5 minutes to take it all in and capture a few photos.

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There must have been almost 30 or more of us in the same group, from different states of India with a common interest, which itself is a conversation starter.

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Not bad eh?
After a short break for snacks, we were up and away to the base camp. We made a few friends along the way and got acquainted with the rest of the group and the guides.

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Mountains lay all around us, as far as we could see.
With some brief water breaks, we progressed steadily and the camp was visible now from a distance. The camp had to moved from the usual position because there seemed to be ice formation further up.

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A friend we met,a pahadi girl.

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Soon we reached the Base Camp and we were soo relieved. After getting a tent for the four of us and some sleeping bags with it, we kept our luggage in and walked around the camp.

The cold fog engulfed us soon and it started getting really quite cold. We were served with popcorn and hot vegetable soup which was delicious and really energized us a lot.

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Cliched Pics for sure. Could have been better.

After a rather good dinner which consisted mainly veggies, dal, rice, chapathis and an amazing banana custard, we went to our tents and after spending some time talking and listening to music, we all went to sleep.
We had an helluva day tomorrow and had to wake up at 6am on the dot. There wasn’t any charger outlets available there, so the charge we have will be all we have till we reach back to Dehradun. So we had to keep the mobile phones and camera batteries near us so that it won’t discharge quickly due to the cold.
Even with all the layers we were wearing and the sleeping bag, it still was freezing and the temperature dropped to near negative at night.

Day 5
Feb 17 | Nag Tibba to Dehradun


We woke up rather unwillingly still sore from the 4km trek and after a tea and few snacks it was already 7am.
We started the trek from there, at first we reached a forest of some kind and the path was getting steep.
Snow was soon visible, it was slippery and hard as a rock. We were kids all again throwing and sliding in the snow.

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I couldn’t believe what I saw all around, as a south Indian snow wasn’t a common sight. Here it was snow all around us, ground, trees and the rocks were covered with hard and some melting ice.

Snow soon became 2 feet deep, my canvas shoe was already soaking wet by now and numbness creeping in, but I wasn’t registering anything because I was too preoccupied with the sights.

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The road not taken.

We shouldn’t heed what Robert Frost said, at Nag Tibba the path not treaded upon will be pretty deep and you will go pretty deep in the snow too. So, following the guide was the sensible option.
People were scattered now, some stopped due to fatigue and others for photos. Me and Balu walked on making a pact that we will stop only at the top.

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The path had turned to two ways,, the temple and the peak. We decided for the peak first and visit the temple on the way back.

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It path seemed endless and we had no idea of time by now. The ice was now almost 3 to 4 Feet deep, so each step had to be careful and footing had to be found. We were breathless by now and the group was now of 5 people including our guide and we moseyed along taking all the time in the world.

We could see the flag at the peak by now, and we almost reached an expanse and a small path leads further up to the peak.

Exhausted, we made it to the top and sat down grinning. It was beyond beautiful. The wide expanse of mountain peaks everywhere.
We could see Kedarnath, Badrinath and Nanda Devi peaks from there. The snow tipped peaks and the quietness of the place was something no yoga or meditation could ever provide.

Till now the most beautiful view I had seen was Gandikota - Andhra Pradesh, but now this topped the list.
My new number one.

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Our guide getting artistic.

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The summit.

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We visited the temple on our way down. It stood alone, frozen with white vastness all around.

Photos or words won’t do justice to the picturesque calmness we experienced there. Our 3022m, -5℃ trip has come to end.
The descend was quicker, we slided almost all the way down, took some ferns as souvenirs from the forest and it took us around 3hrs to reach the base camp and by nightfall we reached back to Dehradun railway station, exhausted.

Our stay was at Rishikesh. Finally, we were on our way there.

Last edited by Siril Simon 5 : 11th April 2019 at 22:06.
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Old 12th April 2019, 08:09   #2
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Default Re: Rishikesh : Journey to the holy city

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th April 2019, 12:52   #3
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Default Re: Rishikesh : Journey to the holy city

Wonderful travelogue! Rishikesh is on my bucket list and would definitely love Nag Tibba trek. I will be penning my journeys in some days from now, taking Que from all of the wonderful writers here
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