November 2, 2008

Garhwal: Rishikesh to Rudraprayag



The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
- Henry David Thoreau


The journey of approximately 140 kms from Rishikesh to Rudraprayag in the rickety bus that took more than 5 hours – most of the time climbing up the mountain roads – was not very comfortable, but the scenery I came across more than made up for the discomfort. Typical scenery was that of curving narrow mountain roads and no matter how limited in size the roads were, somehow two-way traffic was being skilfully maneuvred. The road was mostly through mountain gorges, plunging into deep valleys at the bottom of which flowed the Ganges. Being the monsoon season, the Ganga flowed in its full glory, accumulating rain water in addition to the waters of the melting glaciers originating from the Himalayas.

The Ganges flows on

To reach Rudraprayag, the journey took me through Devprayag (one of the five holy confluences or Panch Prayags) and Srinagar (not of the Jammu & Kashmir fame). Devprayag is another small mountain town situated at the confluence of the Bhagirathi River and the Alaknanda River. What I like about these mountain towns is their characterization by their natural beauty, religious significance, their lakes and glaciers, and the simple mountain folks who dwell there.


From a moving bus near Rudraprayag

The small pilgrim town of Rudraprayag is named so after the Hindu God, Rudra. It lies on the confluence of River Alaknanda that flows from the Alakpuri glacier beyond Badrinath and River Mandakini originating from Kedarnath.

River Alaknanda

The holy confluence is venerated by Hindu pilgrims and an ancient temple, Rudranath, is dedicated right at the confluence.


The Confluence of the Rivers

On my return journey at Rudraprayag, from the modest GMVN accommodation that I had stayed in, I also happened to watch an open-air cremation ceremony at the opposite bank of the River Mandakini. Earlier, I had only heard of disbursement of the ashes in the Holy Ganges, but this trip made me witness it. I watched the covered body consumed in flames, and then with the heat it vaporized into nothingness. At the end of the process, the ash was collected and then scattered into the water from the bank of the River Mandakini at the holy confluence. As soon as this was done, one by one the gathered folks left.

At the ghats of River Mandakini

It also made me introspect on the intricate issues of life. Life is short, and delicate. It would be nice to live it simple and in peace. Nothing is to be feared, it is only to be understood as Marie Curie said. I pondered on the decision of those mountain folks who opted for cremation. They dispose of their dead immediately in a simple ritualistic ceremony, and that must have certainly cost far less than the traditional burial ceremony. Then there is the environmental advantage as well.


View from balcony of GMVN at Rudraprayag

I got a feeling they appeared relaxed because they "think simple" without much drama. I am sure those mountain folk do not worry about the stock market crisis, or for that matter, anything that detracts them from the joy of living in simplicity.
Now I see this post turning out long and I should immediately stop. My wisdom is limited to my awareness of my ignorance on these issues. Sounding philosophical on the death and meaning of life is not my cup of tea. After all, philosophy could get one killed, as it did Socrates!

As my destination was to travel higher up the mountains to Joshimath and Auli passing through Chamoli, the journey through and stopover at Rudraprayag was mainly for a night of rest and relaxation, and these are my observations of a peaceful evening spent there.


Sunflowers of Rudraprayag



How to reach Rudraprayag:


The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport at Dehradun, about 160 kms away and the nearest rail head is at Rishikesh 140 kms. Rudraprayag is connected by narrow roads with other tiny mountain towns of the region and has bus service to Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradun.

Recent Travel Posts:

38 comments:

•♥•♥[V]♥•♥• said...

you are the most luckiest person...
i would give away my life to be in your shoes...
i always wanted to be an adventurer/traveler...

i love the way u describe your journeys in the most simplest of words.

gr8 post as always...
wish i can visit someday..

alok said...

Simply superb post of an amazing place !!!


Wonderful images as usual :)

Have a great week ahead :)

Lakshmi said...

I see a beautiful meandering river surprising me at every turn ..wish I could be there

Zhu said...

It looks like the Amazon!

How do you even get there???

indicaspecies said...

Vicky,

Thanks. I'm glad you liked reading this post, and hope you get to travel soon. It's close by for you, so get rolling.;)

And hey, I make these travels happen. What's with being 'luckiest' about it, huh?:)

indicaspecies said...

Alok,

Thank you very much.:)

indicaspecies said...

Lakshmi,

It's more beautiful in real..pictures do not convey the feeling fully.:)

indicaspecies said...

Zhu,

By the rickety bus..., remember reading it somewhere? LOL

'Why' do I even get there is a better question.
Zhu, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go, just to be on the move. And then to me, the more remote a place is, the more magical it gets.

Btw, I wanna be at the Amazon too someday. What about you?;)

•♥•♥[V]♥•♥• said...

so u don't believe in luck too eh??
i thought u were a believer ..most girls are....

GMG said...

Hi Celine! Another great post; You should change your alias to Indicatrotter... ;))
For the time being Blogtrotter is departing Armenia. It leaves you however with a view that Tsar Nicholas didn’t see… ;))
Have a great week!

GMG said...

Hi Celine! Another great post; You should change your alias to Indicatrotter... ;))
For the time being Blogtrotter is departing Armenia. It leaves you however with a view that Tsar Nicholas didn’t see… ;))
Have a great week!

~vagabond~ said...

Another lovely post. And I agree...that "think simple" philosophy so removed from our unnecessarily complicated life is probably their secret to a happy life.

jimmy said...

ohhhhhh lovely, i saw ur pics, amazing. I used to think that gals are way behind in shooting but u have changed my opinion to some extent. U make very good frames, technically u r in learning stage as i m. You have good pair of eyes, which always take over the lenses. Hope to c more from u.

Ram Dhall said...

Simply mesmerizing post. Having been to these places, I felt I was almost travelling along with you. The excellent pictures say it all. I don't know how you manage to compose such amazing pictures!!!

Would look forward to your account of your journey further up - to Badrinath, Hemkund Sahib and VOF.

Ravi Kumar said...

we r moving ahead together up.. I too wrote my post on the same route :)

Saibal Barman said...

As usual, a beautiful write-up, Celine !
Rudraprayag is my favourite halt on journey to and from the hills. This is the place that I have stayed the most so far in the Garhawal Himalayas. Your post has relived all hidden memories of its beautiful faces through years and seasons of my presence by it !
Lovely flow with gentle touches of mythological inputs, rituals, livelihood and nature's beauty.
According to mythologies, Lord Shiva, in his Rudrarup, appeared at the confluence to bless Narada with knowledge. It is also believed that Ragas were created by Him. Narada Shila still stands revered by millions.
I loved to read about Mother Ganga; yes, now the National River. I was fortunate enough to view snouts of all three sacred rivers Mandakini (at Chorabari Bamak), Alakananda (at Alaka) and Bhagirathi (at Goumukh) and has ever been fascinated to think how amazingly they all originate from the main stretch of Gangotri glacier and merge into oneness to flow as Ganga, the lifeline of the northern plains. Your post has made me dream about those beautiful moments of the past !
To conclude : as ever every philosopher died for a cause, and death remained only its effect; the rest in the society also died, but they died for effects, while death remained its cause...
My best wishes,

Ashraf said...

Nice blog there

Although a Madhya Pradeshi I haven't seen much of it.

Having seen pictures from ur blog, it has inspired me a lot. Next time when i visit my home town Chhatarpur, I will make it a point to go around places :-)

indicaspecies said...

Vicky,

Not really. I am certainly not like most girls!

That's because I'm unique, like everyone else is..LOL

•♥•♥[V]♥•♥• said...

phir to teri meri jamegi :D

agli baar ek saath chaltein hai.

indicaspecies said...

Teek hai Vicky.:P

indicaspecies said...

GMG:

Gil,

Hey, INDICATROTTER it shall be when I trot as much as you have done. Good suggestion though and I shall remember that. Thanks.;)

indicaspecies said...

Vagabond,

Thank you, and delighted to know that you concur with the 'think simple' philosophy.:)

indicaspecies said...

Jimmy,

Thank you for your visit and compliments.

However, I do not like to generalize on a topic of discussion nor do I like gender differentiation. On the contrary, I believe in the equality of human beings!

indicaspecies said...

Ram,

Having travelled to those areas yourself, I am doubly delighted that you like this post. I intend to write, at least briefly, on the rest of my Garhwal trip in due course.

Thank you for your gracious words.:)

indicaspecies said...

Ravi,

Thank you for your visit, I shall be right over to your blog.:)

indicaspecies said...

Saibal,

I'm pleased that you liked this post and good to hear from you - you, who has well-travelled the Garhwal region! Thank you very much for your kind words and more so, for the additional information on Rudraprayag.:)

indicaspecies said...

Hello Ashraf,

Welcome aboard, and I am delighted to know my blog inspires you to travel more. Your Chhatarpur district is home to the fascinating Khajuraho and close by is Ken Gharial and Panna too. I enjoyed my MP trip last December.

Thank you for your kind words, and do drop in sometimes. I shall be writing more posts on my trip to MP including my visits to Bandhavgarh National Park, Bhopal, Pachmarhi etc.:)

Indrani said...

This is fascinating Celine. :)
A virtual tour so inspiring. I am saving the links.

Mridula said...

I have taken this road myself more than once but because of the avomine for my motion sickness, I often miss more than half of the route falling asleep. Lucky people who do not have motion sickness.

Water bodies lend such a charm to a place. Lovely post Veline.

Ashraf said...

Thanks for those kind words. DO visit my blog in your free time :-)
http://ashrafsplace.blogspot.com/

shooting star said...

nice post....i have travelled from hardwar to rishikesh to dev prayag and absolutely lved it...
mean to visit rudraprayag and beyond till alley of flowers and hem kunth soon!!!

Rambling Woods said...

You have the most interesting blog. Thank you for providing a view of your travels...and thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate it very much...

indicaspecies said...

Indrani,

Thanks. Delighted that you felt so.:)

indicaspecies said...

Mridula,

Thank you.:)

Yes, it is a long winding journey and I couldn't keep my eyes off the scenery. It's a pity that you miss some part of it.

indicaspecies said...

Ashraf,

Thanks for the link. I shall be dropping by now.:)

indicaspecies said...

Sushmita,

Thank you. Go, go and enjoy yourself VoF and Hemkund. I shall be writing a post on my trek to those places sometime.:)

indicaspecies said...

Rambling Woods:

Thank you for dropping by, and I am glad you enjoyed being here.:)

Anonymous said...

hey, nice description...
it helped me a bit....
thanks