Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter near Rishikesh

The Beatles went there for spiritual enlightenment... why not the Sayer family? Rishikesh is famous for Hindu Sadus wearing saffron colored robes and its many ghats and temples lining the edge of the holy river Ganga.
The town's narrow alleys are full of the smells of incense and cow manure.
There are crowds of pilgrims from all corners of India. Scores of earthy, western travelers who can be seen toting bpa-free water bottles and expensive yoga mats while longing for inner peace and the discovery of a cheap, organic veg meal.
This part of the Ganga (Ganges) river passes through the state of Uttarakhand.
The river descends through the lower foothills of the Himalayas making the area famous for whitewater rafting and trekking. We traveled with another family by air-conditioned train to the city of Haridwar - the "gate of Heaven." From Haridwar we went on by car through Rishikesh and up into the Ganga River valley northeast for three days of rafting, kayaking and camping. Our outfitters provided all of the equipment, meals and local transportation for this weekend. Over two days we traveled a total of over 30 km on the Ganga River by raft - where the largest rapid (at this time of year) was rated a 3+ on the scale of difficulty. The company was pretty good - using kayak safety spotters and providing a guide in each of the nine boats in our group. For safety, the children had to get out of the raft twice to avoid the worst sections of rapids. We all enjoyed the sometimes wild ride and jumped in the water between rapids to cool down in the river's icy, glacial waters.
Easter morning was celebrated with the kids - Audrey, Kunchen, Evan and Siddhi, searching for chocolate eggs amongst the rocks in our riverside camp. We rafted and swam during three hot sunny days. We ate traditional Indian dishes and freshly made Roti under a large tent. And for two cool, starlit evenings we roasted marshmellows and drank wine and cocoa by the bonfire.
It worked for us... just north of the tangled alleyways and hubub of Rishikesh, we found a touch of inner peace and the joy of Easter while keeping our toes dipped into the holy mountain waters of the Ganga.

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