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    Tuesday
    Apr172012

    Rishikesh and Mother Ganga

    I am not sure why I wanted to go to Rishikesh so badly. It was ringing a gong in my head, so we went after our course was done in Faridabad. We got up at 4:00 AM to be ready for our taxi at 5 to make it to our train at 6:50. It is always recommended to get to the train station at least an hour ahead of time, because the station is a little crazy. Our train was at the platform furthest away from the entrance, and I am really glad that we insisted on having the taxi driver walk us all the way to our train, because we never would have found it without him. We got on with little to no confusion (so we thought), and were just settling in and congratulating ourselves on finding the right seats on the right car, when a nice family came up and informed us that we were in their seats. Apparently, we needed the next car over. Who knew? We finally got seated in the correct seats and settled in for the 6-hour train ride to Haridwar, the nearest town to Rishikesh that was big enough to have a train that ran more than once a day. Haridwar is about an hour away from Rishikesh, and we arranged a taxi to bring us right from the train to the guest house we were staying at. We were staying in the area of Rishikesh known as Swagashram, which is basically a group of ashrams on the banks of the river Ganges. It is absolutely lovely. There are two bridges spanning the river: the Lakshman Jula and the Ram Jula. The Laksman Jula is a suspension bridge for pedestrians, and it sways with the weight of the people, cows, and motorcycles that make their way back and forth over the Ganges. The Ram Jula is a smaller bridge, which seems older but more stable.

    There were two types of monkeys in Rishikesh. The smaller, brownish-red, evil, thieving monkeys, and the very sweet, patient, and cute grey monkeys. The grey ones somehow learned what the red ones did not: that we should practice asteya, non-stealing. I watched as one of the red monkeys ripped a bag of grapes out of an unsuspecting woman's hand as she stood talking to a walla. He took the whole bag and jumped up onto a wall to munch away, baring his teeth at anyone who came close.

    The river Ganges is as spectacular as the Himalayas. The whole place was absolutely stunning, and next time, I need to spend more than a week here...

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