In my life it has been always surprising to me that I started going to Bangalore, Calcutta and Rishikesh quite late. Bangalore and Calcutta, because they are very big music hubs in the country. And Rishikesh because it is Rishikesh!! I wish I had gotten to these places decades ago.
Ganga Aarati Triveni Ghat
This time , I drove to Rishikesh from Punjab. It was a lovely drive. I settled myself in a hotel near Lakshman Zhula, and stepped out to go to the Lakshman Zhula. I simply love t be there. The shops specifically interested in attracting the foreigners, couple of beggars dressed as sadhus, some sadhus singing some songs, Chaat sellers on the street, a couple of cows and dogs roaming around, a couple of aggressive monkeys trying to steal some food from the tourists, some small kids trying to beg, some shops selling brass idols and incense sticks and the cafes with some fabulous menus; Looking down at the river you can see some boats, some rafters coming from upstream, some cafes on the bank of river Ganga a couple of couples trying to spend romantic time with each other, some devotees getting in the water carefully and some birds trying to hunt for fish and so on. The entire place has a mesmerising vibe.
At every corner you will find a temple or a yoga studio or an aashram or a dharamashala or such. Lots of these temples keep having weekly or daily bhajans in the evenings.
Weekly Bhajan in a temple at Rishikesh
Many, many times I have gone there on the bridge and simply stood doing nothing. It is mediative for me. Although meditative, lots of music always keeps going on in my head…. All the time!
This time as I had my car, In next few days I drove to Kunjapuri Temple, Tihri Dam, and also to Vasishta Gufa. These places have their own charm. I was told that you can see a beautiful sunrise and sunset from Kunjapuri temple. So I was there almost an hour before the sunrise. It was absolutely serene and peaceful. At Kunjapuri temple a group of yoga students led by their teacher came. As the group of tourists came up, one small local boy was woken up by his father or so. He then started banging on his drums in half sleep. It was obnoxious and loud. Obviously he was expecting money for that. It was simply criminal to kill the peace and beauty around the temple. Finally someone gave him some money to stop. Probably that was his way to earn money!! Once he stopped, the yoga teacher started playing his drum and singing. !!
Sleepy boy banging his drums
Yoga group singing and dancing - Kunjapuri Temple
Vasishth Gufa is slightly away from Laxman Zhula. I was told Vasishta Muni lived and meditated there. Now there is a quiet and beautiful aashram too. I went inside the gufa [Cave] and played a raag that I had created some time ago. It was a deep experience for me. Fortunately I did record it.
Deep meditative Raag Hari Bhairav at Vasisth Gufa
The popular Ganga Aarati now takes place every evening in several places in Rishikesh - Trivent Ghat being the most popular. It always is a great crowd puller. That also brings in business for everyone around! There are always some beggars dressed to look like sadhus. some playing music, some telling you your fortune, some just giving their blessings to you, and so on. There are hundreds of aashrams and even in the covid and lockdown there were practically thousands of visitors. Mainly coming from Haridwar as Kumbh Mela was going on.
Famous Ganga Aarati at Triveni Ghat - Rishikesh
Beggars at the Triveni Ghat - Ganga Aarati courtyard - Rishikesh
I stayed in Rishikesh for a while and then left for wandering around in the inner Uttrakhand. Here are a couple of more videos from Rishikesh... And some pictures.