The day after Dehradun sightseeing was done, we decided to visit Rishikesh and Haridwar, two towns with spiritual significance. We booked a cab to take us to both places and bring us back to Dehradun.
After an early breakfast, we started to Rishikesh.
Rishikesh is 45 km from Dehradun. Part of the route goes through beautiful forest area.
First we went to Triveni Ghat.
Depiction of Lord Shiva opening his Jata (Hair) to accept Ganga, with Parvati Devi looking on.
Triveni ghat is a famous ghat in Rishikesh as it has the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers. It is regarded as a very holy place and a bath here is believed to relieve us of our sins. The main attraction during evenings is the Ganga Aarti over here. But we went in the morning, so sprinkled some water on our head and headed to Lakshman Jhula.
Lakshman Jhula with the Tryambakeshwar temple on the other end.
Lakshman Jhula is an iron suspension bridge across the River Ganga at Rishikesh. Previously a jute bridge existed, which was washed away in floods in 1924. Later the iron suspension bridge was constructed. According to the legend, Rama’s younger brother Lakshmana crossed the Ganga at this point on a jute bridge due to which this bridge was named after him. At one end of the Jhula, the 13 storied Tryambakeshwar temple is located. There are a lot of shops at the entrance point of the Jhula selling precious stones, rudraksh etc. From the bridge, we can see the mighty Ganga on which White water rafting is very popular at Rishikesh. From here we left to Neelkanth Mahadev temple.
Situated at a height of 1330 meters and located about 32 km from Rishikesh, the Neelkanth Mahadev temple is where Lord Shiva is worshipped in his Shivling form. It is believed that Mahadev had taken the poison that emanated from the Sagar Manthan between Devas and asuras over here and held the poison in his throat, thereby becoming Neelkanth (Blue throat). Thus he is worshipped as Neelkanth Mahadev over here.
The narrow path, winding through the hills, takes us through forests and natural beauty. But because it is on a hilltop, a lot of time was taken to go to the temple and return.
From Neelkanth temple to Haridwar, the distance was 50km and it took more that 2 hours to reach Haridwar.
By the time we reached Haridwar, it was past 3 o clock. We were very hungry by then and we took our lunch at an eatery at Har ki Pauri. They served amazing chole kulche. So once our hunger pangs subsided, we went to buy tickets for the ropeway to Manasa Devi and Chandi Devi temples. But by then, the booking was closed, so couldn’t have a darshan. (We went to Manasa Devi and Chandi Devi temples a couple of years later, and if you go to Haridwar, do not miss them). So we went and took a place to sit at Har ki Pauri.
Har ki Pauri is a famous Ganga Ghat. The atmosphere there is full of life. Countless people do Ganga snan and various rituals here, but be careful if you want any rituals done. The pujari’s over there manage to lighten your pockets with persuasion. So stick to the amount you had been prepared to give and do not let them sway you.
The evening Aarti is divine. We went and sat on the banks. It was a normal weekday with no religious significance, yet around 1 lakh people waited for the Aarti. After soaking in the blissful atmosphere, we left a diya with a prayer to Ganga Ma.
Then we started back to Dehradun which was a two hour drive.