During the second month of my first trip to India, Rishikesh was my last hope to soak in tranquility after the previous chaos and observe some ancient and surreal moments.
And so, the journey begins.
Upon arrival in Rishikesh the air was immediately cleaner and not as polluted. The main streets were still India, dirty and chaotic. However, as I got further into the residential parts of town the streets became cleaner, the air wasn’t riddled with trash fires or massive pollution.
Most importantly, I saw trees, grass and flowers. A welcome change from sand everywhere.
A chance to rest and regain strength.
The $15/night home-stay was a refreshing change from having spent one month in a hut in Goa. This time around, my second floor dwelling has hot water (which didn’t run out after 30 seconds), A/C, a comfy round bed, a window view of the Himalayas and fast Wi-Fi. There was even a sitting area on the second floor, including an outdoor patio. Each home cooked Indian food meal was brought upstairs to me daily. It took a few days to feel human again, regaining energy, an appetite and some quiet.
Flowers and an old shed…
One particular day was chilly and wonderful.
After doing some work, I wandered off along an old stone wall in this more neighborhood part of town I’m in. No tourists around, and the neighbors were probably wondering what the hell a white guy by himself was doing taking a stroll.
Passing a couple of monkeys along the way, while a train was moving against the backdrop of the Himalayas I noticed something odd. Kids outside…. playing. No phones, no video games, nothing high tech. They were playing hide and seek around old trees. They were playing stickball. There were using found objects in their environment. I haven’t seen this in a while.
I came upon a brick shed and wildflowers growing against it, so I decided to sit down, feet dangling off a wall. A nearby cow roped up to the property was happily grazing on these flowers.
As women in colorful attire walked by, I saw an old man coming my way, a cane in one hand, and presumably grandson in the other. They sat down a few feet away from me on the wall to soak in some nature.
Other people would occasionally come up to them and chat, like a village.
Further down this path, I heard a hand bell being rung, and faint sitar music off in the distance. The bell belonged to a vendor, who was trying to sell from a large handful of colorful BALLOONS! Quite surreal.
As soon as I came back to my home-stay, Hervinder Kaur (the owner’s mother) heard me open the gate and was up the stairs seconds later. She asked if I “wanted to take tea”.
Moments later, tea and cookies arrived!
A Magical Night on the Ganges…
I had a very magical night on the Ganges. It’s hard to describe the energy of this sacred place where three rivers meet, framed by the Himalayas. I arrived two hours early to meditate before evening Arati that happens nightly during sunset at Triveni Ghat.
Before it even started many fantastic scenes presented themselves. The best of which I don’t photograph, as I feel it’s rude intrude on people in devotion to capture the moment. Instead, I managed to take some unsuspecting shots here and there.
This was another step back in time. Regal looking Sadhu’s chanting, leaves containing flowers, a candle and incense all floating down the river, the sun setting, the heavy incense smells, the bells ringing, people drinking, bathing and paying respects to the river. I’ll never forget it.
After passing my pentacle necklace through incense and fire I purified and charged it in the river, including splashing water from the Ganges on my face as the sun was setting.
And then there was the Arati. A symphony of music, chanting and fire.
After the Arati, I came upon a random Indian drum circle!
Other interesting things I saw.
Journey to a mystical waterfall.
Early one morning, I set off with a guide to a hidden waterfall called Patna Falls, journeying by scooter up into the Himalayas. The water far down below was pristine and clear, with various monkey’s roadside along the way. We traveled up hills and over rocky terrain and a rickety wooden bridge to traverse the mountain.
A video of the scooter ride and trek to Patna falls.
Arati at Parmarth Niketan.
Having seen videos in the past I wanted to visit this special place in person. There were people around me in ecstatic prayer, tears and all types of emotion. Over the years, my personal path has moved away from Eastern thought, and this just didn’t move me in person the way I hoped it would. Swatting off huge swarms of flies, camera screens everywhere, people talking, etc., were all a distraction.
This video (I didn’t take), shows what a good night would be like here. My videos aren’t as good….
Recap of my two weeks in Rishikesh, India.
In addition to wrapping up a client project for eCommerce Warriors (my income source), I got asked to write an expert guest post for LemonStand an eCommerce platform for small retailers, you can find the post on my blog here. I’ve also been scheduled for a podcast interview with Graham Brown of Barefoot Radio to discuss my experience thus far with the digital nomad lifestyle.
My next stop is Thailand, where I’ll spend a total of three months. The first month will be Bangkok, followed by two months in Chiang Mai (the fabled ground zero location for other location independent 9-5 killing nomads).
PS. So far as I publish this, Bangkok has been awesome!