A Travellerspoint blog

Secret waterfall of Rishikesh

sunny 31 °C
View Indianarama on Pharkie's travel map.

Last night in Little Buddha cafe we met Julian from the French alps, Arash from Iran and 18 year old Alfie from deepest darkest Norfolk. We made a plan. At 3pm today we would journey to the secret waterfall of Rishikesh.

It's in Rishikesh I've learnt that the men sat with stacks of coins are not an ostentatious display of wealth but a pragmatic solution to the endemic problem that no shopkeeper, taxi pr bus driver is able to maintain a suitable supply of small change. These guys provide it for a small commission.

After collecting a new friend Danny from Sweden - because he was sat where we were meeting - we hit the road around 4pm. With 2 hours to sunset, expecting adventure, I took the Swiss army knife in case I needed to cut off my own arm as in the movie '127 hours'.

Conflicting directions had us looking for chai tents, abandoned chai tents, streams and temples as clues for the turn-off.

We took our chance on a dirt path. Large black-and-yellow spiders hanging menacingly over the path were warded off with The Stick of Vengeance and after 15 minutes we happened upon a cave. Through the cave was a waterfall! Me and Alfie plunged in, a relief after the walk in the heat.

We returned for chai masala at the Paradise cafe. Turns out I didn't need to cut off my arm.

Those signs you get in Irish pubs saying 'there are no strangers here, only friends you haven't met yet': they're never true there but we've made so many friends here both local and foreign. I have a personal barber for all my shaving needs, we have our favourite restaurant, we know our way about and we've even acquired a pet dog that follows us home and sleeps outside our door.

So tomorrow we pack up our troubles in an old kit bag and travel with Alfie back to Hardiwar for a night, then a bus north to Manali.

We've spent our final night in Rishikesh by candlelight on the roof terrace of Danny's guest house, smoking a little and narrating the life stories of the local ants.

A fresh, warm breeze; solitary lights flicker high up the mountains; we cross the rickety bridge from Laxman Jhula for the final time.

Danny once sold a virtual gun for $19,000 actual dollars in the online game Entropia.

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Posted by Pharkie 23:55 Archived in India Tagged india rishikesh Comments (0)

Rishikesh

sunny 30 °C
View Indianarama on Pharkie's travel map.

A mouse just ran from under the next rug toward the stairs and what I thought was a piece of paper on the floor flew magnificently to a ledge. A sitar player and tabla man accompany a (pretty ropey) belly dancer at our restaurant, Didi's East West.

Sod the hygeine, it's salads, iced fruit juice and milk lassis from now on. It's hot and they're great.

Slawek's beating me two games to one at chess but I've got a game lined up with the owner of La Bella View for tomorrow. He won't know my disappointing form.

Rishikesh, where the Beatles wrote the White album, is a hive of building activity thanks to tourism. Not wahey Brits, but Russian, Spanish, American and lots of Indians. Mostly seeking yoga classes.

It's our first experience of Indian watermarks: insect bites; cows sat in the middle of the road (plus the narrow bridge); and regular power cuts. An upcoming religious festival has been decorating the streets in recent days.

My quest to grow a beard lasted precisely two days. We found a barber who gives an excellent open-blade shave for 30 rupees (40p). That said he offered a facial massage upgrade package for another 50 rupees (60p). Not one to deny a man his living, I emerged fresh as a daisy, exuding a gentle scent of petrochemicals that smell like strawberry.

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We were going to do yoga tomorrow but I've persuaded Slaw to join 3 hours rafting 16km down the Ganges. Grade 3+ out of 5 he says. We'll see. After all I am highly adept after a stag activity in Nottingham.

Must dash, the serve-yourself curries have arrived. I don't think the boney American woman next to us is much competition but I'm not taking any chances.

Posted by Pharkie 01:57 Archived in India Tagged india rishikesh Comments (0)

Haridwar: day 3

En-route to Rishikesh

semi-overcast 32 °C
View Indianarama on Pharkie's travel map.

Under strict instruction to check out by 12pm or pay another night, we rolled out of bed at 12.01pm. Moving fast is not a good idea in 34 degree heat. Half an hour later, we emerged sweating but financially intact.

It's interesting to see different conventions India. Paying the price labelled is about as culturally acceptable as setting yourself on fire. Completely ignoring people walking at your side that give a friendly 'hello' seems perfectly acceptable - indeed necessary. Spitting is popular; flagrant littering a national past-time. And of course you can't eat with your left hand.

After another couple of hours in officially India's most air-conditioned room: the booking office at New Delhi train station, we located and boarded our train with no fuss.

The last time we took a 5 hour train it seemed a really long time. It was London to Glasgow and travelling First Class-donchooknow (free, because I'm cool), meant endless tea, biscuits and glasses of wine. In India, 5 hours is nothing to the 24 and 36ers. There was still endless chai (5 rupees/7p); the air-conditioning wasn't quite so efficient, being electric fans strapped to the ceiling; but the at-seat power, despite the rust-bucket chic of the carriage, meant iPhone Chess helped the time fly by.

We're now in Haridwar, a stop-over before the bus to Rishikesh. I'm typing this at the table after all-you-can-eat Thali (50 rupees/70p) while Slawek sleeps at the fine Hotel Ashok, 300 rupees a night (£4.30).

It's calmer than Delhi here, but so is Piccadilly Circus in rush-hour. It's also cheaper, cooler and cleaner. Slightly.

I've decided to grow a beard.

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Posted by Pharkie 22:58 Archived in India Tagged india haridwar Comments (1)

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