Rishikesh

Rishikesh is located in Indian state of Uttarkahand and is the Yoga capital of the universe! When we found out that it was only a short drive from the village where we attended the wedding we had to go! Well maybe it was more like I had to go and this of course meant Ryan had to come too. He’s not as big a fan of yoga as I am so he wasn’t as enthusiastic about this destination.

We arrived in this wonderful town located in the Himalayan foothills and were instantly taken away by its beauty. Apart from crazy good yoga classes and schools Rishikesh is also infamous for its adventurous side. You can white water raft down the Ganges river and sign up for multi day treks to the Himalayas! This had me more than excited, I was completely over the moon to have the chance to go back to the Himalayas only a month and a half after my last visit to these incredible mountains. We had five days in Rishikesh, this gave us just enough time to raft down the Ganges,  trek in the Himalayas and fit in a yoga class!

 

Rishikesh
The gorgeous riverside town that is Rishikesh

First thing on the agenda was my yoga class. Ryan opted out of the yoga class because a. He’s not very good at yoga and b. He was feeling a little under the weather.  But being the gentleman that he is he walked me to the yoga class and planned on sitting in a restaurant until I finished.

The yoga class was awesome!!! It went for 2 and half hours and I never wanted it to end! I felt completely refreshed and stretched out after the class and I was shocked to find the class had gone that long when I finished (sorry Ryan!). When I left the class I found Ryan waiting outside, turns out he was feeling so under the weather that instead of going to the restaurant to wait for me he’d ended up sleeping on  the chair in the foyer of the Guesthouse above the yoga class. While he was snoozing on the chair he got woken up twice… the first time because a dog licked his hand and the second because a monkey pulled his hair! He said he thought I pulled his hair to wake him up (because that’s my standard way of waking him up…) only to open his eyes and find a monkey scuttling off up the stairs! He didn’t seem so amused when retelling me of his experience but this story still makes me laugh even as I’m writing it!

yoga studio
The cute yoga studio that I did my class in
cheeky monkey
I can’t be sure but I suspect this might be the monkey that pulled Ryan’s hair
The next morning Ryan was feeling better so we decided to go for that raft down the river Ganges. I should mention that this part of the Ganges looks about a million times cleaner than the Ganges in Varanassi! Rafting was awesome!  We had these crazy guides who I swear were on a mission to make us fall out of the boat, they even had us stand up in one of the rapids! No one fell out of the boat but we happily dove into the river on our own free will. After all it’s not everyday that you can say you took a dip in the river Ganges!

Ganges swim
Swimming in the Ganges!!
eaft crowd
Rafting is extremely popular, apparently a lot of domestic tourists come up from Delhi to be part of the fun
The next day we were setting off for our trekking adventure, I was so excited!!! We were up early in the morning in for a long drive to a town called Sari, where we would be starting our trek. The drive was terrifying to say the least, I thought on more than one occasion that we were going to simply roll right off the edge of the cliff that supposed to be a road! We did pass through the interesting town of Devprayag, the town where the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda rivers meet to form the holy river Ganges.

rivers
The town of Devprayag, where the rivers meet, I love that there’s a distinct colour difference between the rivers
When we arrived in Sari we got ourselves ready for the first leg of the trek. It wasn’t all that long in distance but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t crazy hard! In quite the contrast to the trekking we did in Nepal (you can read more about that here) where the average pace was “slowly, slowly” our guide for this trek, Aman, was quite possibly the fastest man alive. He set a cracking pace and the whole trek was completely up hill. We had a break on the way up at a small temple, the man who looks after the temple made us tea and we took advantage of the chance to rest! I think now is probably a good time to mention that Aman liked to smoke, and a lot of the time the substances that he rolled were definitely a little suspicious (I think you an probably guess what I’m talking about). He told us it was his “chocolate” and that every mountain guide did it, he was just honest about it. At first we were maybe a little concerned but he seemed more than capable so we didn’t worry too much. We drank our tea and he bonded with the temple man over a smoke and then we set off on our way again.

temple
Mountain temple
caretaker
The temple caretaker… He used to be in the army and now he happily lives a simple life looking after this temple
We reached our camp within a few hours and we found ourselves at 2800m, like I said the trek was mostly uphill! The accomodation for the night was tents, I’m not the biggest fan of camping but when it’s lakeside property one can’t really complain. We had a delicious dinner in a little hut further up a hill and sat around a bonfire. Aman had some “chocolate” with his friend who cooked us dinner and then we retired to our tent for the night.

tent
Room with a view
bonfire
Cold mountain nights
The next day was tougher than the first! More so for Ryan who was still feeling quite unwell. We trekked for 15 kms through forests and over mountains, our final destination was at 3000m but we went over 3500m to get there. We made good time in the end though and despite a little bit of rain here and there the trail was absolutely beautiful.

mountain cow
MOUNTAIN COW!!! Found this guy casually wandering around at 3000m
grassy hillside
These grassy hillsides were all over the trail
trail
The trail was like a fairytale
We over nighted in the little town of Chopta,  also known as Chandrashila base camp, this is the peak we planned on summiting in the morning. Luckily we were in a guest house because it was rainy and absolutely freezing! This did of course make the 4 am wake up particularly difficult but with high hopes of Himalayan views we dragged ourselves out of bed to set off for the summit of Chandrashilla at 4212m. We were currently at 3000m, we had a long way to go to the top.  The trek was difficult due to the higher altitude and also because of the crazy pace that Aman was setting but it was incredible all the same and when we rounded a corner to catch our first glimpse of the snowcapped Himalayas all my ill thoughts of how hard the trek was fizzled away! We were lucky that it had snowed the previous night so all of the mountains had a fresh white covering on them,  including the one we were climbing. We stopped on the way up for a Chai break and then continued on to the top. We ended up making it there in about 2 hours which was a really good time. As can only be expected the view from the top was incredible! A little part of me was worried it was going to be hazy but since we’d made it to the top just after sunrise the sky was crystal clear and we had the whole summit to ourselves!

himalayas
First view of the Himalayas
Chai break
Chai break
icicles
Icicles on the way to the top
summit views
Nothing compares to that feeling when you make it to the top – Chandrashila summit at 4212m
We took a whole lot of photos at the top and the carefully started our descent. The little bit of snow that had fallen the night before was melting as the sun got higher in the sky and it made for quite a slippery path! We stopped at the same shack where we got Chai on the way up and the owner made us noodles for breakfast, exactly what we needed! He then had some “chocolate” with Aman… Aman seemed to have a lot of friends who like “chocolate”. We continued our descent and made it back to Chopta just after 10 am.

descent
So beautiful
descent
Making my way down
donkey
You can opt to ride a donkey part of the way to the top but thats cheating and I’d feel bad for teh donkey!
Shiva temple
Temple dedicated to worshipping Shiva, located at 3800m
 
mountain man
The mountain man that made us chai and noodles
  
mountains
I think the mountains are my favourite place to be!
 We were meant to spend another night in Chopta but since we’d made such good timing and because we didn’t particularly want to spend another night in the cold we opted to return to Rishikesh. We spent our last day in Rishikesh taking it easy as Ryan still wasn’t feeling well, we had an overnight bus trip to Delhi and then a flight to Kerala next on the agenda so we wanted to have him feeling as good as possible.

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