Shivaya Namaha! Shivaya Namaha!.. is what I hear repeatedly. It is an effect of walking through a busy lane where they are playing these chants and melodies on Hindu deities. It is an effect of the mystical Rishikesh. Across Ramjhula, hiking by the side of the Holy River is breathtaking.
Like every other adventure lover, we thought of rafting at the moment we planned for this trip. But this is about how we didn’t go for it and where we ended up.
This is one of those trips that I went with Trishna. I introduce this person as my alter-ego, a typical partner in all my mischief.
Our usual late night discussion brings the topic of exploring Dehradun and Rishikesh. Next question that arises is “When”?
I: “No, I have to go for documentation for my new job on the day after tomorrow.”
Trishna: “Done. The day after tomorrow then.”
22nd March 2017. A Wednesday. We reached Maharana Pratap ISBT, Kashmere Gate, New Delhi at around 10.00 pm. Immediately, we confirmed tickets for 10.30 pm as buses to Dehradun leave in every half an hour. There we go.
“Like brothers in blood, or sisters who ride
Yeah we swore on that night we’d be friends ’til we die
But the changing of winds, and the way water flows
Life is short as the falling of snow…”
Any ‘trip’ with this person is best complemented by the songs of Coldplay. Chris Martin bore with us the whole night. He is our all-time number one. By now, you must have got the idea of how random our plans could be and end up with a probability of not “Rafting at Rishikesh.”
We reached Dehradun ISBT by 4.30 am and checked into a hotel nearby. Fueling our body with sufficient sleep and breakfast, we moved out for the day.
Exploring a little of Doon: 3.00 pm
The best-loved place that I have visited till now is the Mindrolling Monastery near Clement Town in the district of Dehradun. It is a re-establishment of the famous Mindrolling Monastery which is one of the six major monasteries of the Nyingma (means “ancient”) school in Tibet. It now contains Ngagyur Nyingma College, one of the largest Buddhist institutes in India.
If you are a peace lover, this could be one of the top counts in the entire district. We reached Clement Town by 3.00 pm and spent the evening exploring this holy place till the closing hours.
Before 3.00 pm
Before heading towards Clement Town, we spent the afternoon at the most favoured Forest Research Institute. Aside from a premier institution in the field of forestry research in India, FRI is popularly one of the prominent tourist attractions in Dehradun. More than half a dozen movies were majorly shot in this campus.
It’s a vast campus and beautiful architecture barely fail to captivate the visitors. I should credit this place for motivating the amateur photographer inside me.
Night before Rishikesh
After witnessing a peaceful sunset, we headed back to the hotel from Mindrolling Monastery. Meeting some of the great seniors from college time was an addendum to the trip. Rishikesh was finalized for the next day. They were joining us too. We had a long night discussion on the time that we should be leaving, necessities for rafting, mode of transportation that we would be using, good old college days, highly acclaimed college fest- Auxesis, good music, guitar, common taste of food, family, native love and many more until we concluded that we need to wake up early. We were to reach by around 10.00 am to confirm the bookings for rafting. Excited!
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram
It was 11.30 am, and we were still sleeping. All in a chase, I got ready. We finally reached by 2.30 pm via local transportation. So, this was where the entire plan toppled. Initially, I felt miserable about the situation. But soon, hearing about the second option made me feel way better. After hiking for about 45-50 minutes, we found our treasure land. It is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram, now famous as Beatles Ashram.
The Beatles arrived in India in February 1968, along with their wives, girlfriends, assistants, and numerous reporters. They travelled to Rishikesh to attend an advanced Transcendental Meditation (TM) training session at the ashram. The locals also know it as the Chaurasi Kutiya which means 84 Huts in Hindi, after the number of cave-like stone hovels. It has been a pilgrimage site for fans looking to retrace the band’s steps and soak up harmonious vibes.
It remained abandoned for decades until the Forest Department recovered it. It has now evolved into a graffiti-art museum.
The meditation hall, also known as the “Beatles Cathedral” is the major attraction with its peculiar hallways and paintings. Those of you who don’t know about Pan Trinity Das, these paintings will introduce him to you.
Exploring the whole of it ignited the feeling of achievement in us. By the side of Rajaji Reserve Forest and on the bank of river Ganga, sits the spectacular Beatles Ashram which speaks of transcendental meditation and excellent collection of paintings. We returned and reached back to Dehradun by 7.00 pm as we were to return to Delhi that night for some work.
For me, it remained as an unfinished affair. If you are planning a trip, do not miss out the Beatles Ashram. Of course, go for rafting as well. For the best experience, accommodate yourself at Rishikesh which I have aimed for my next visit. You will find ample hotels and cottages nearby.
Thanks for reading.
Image Courtesy: Indraneel Agasty and Trishna Das