This line from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”, always comes to mind whenever I set out on a trip.
“I cannot rest from travel; I will drink life to the lees”.
Few things in life are as beautiful as the feeling one gets upon seeing the first streak of light hitting the sky and illuminating the distant mountain ranges and lighting up the tiny hamlets lying far beyond the range of vision. It was somewhere around 6 am and we were sitting at the Rishikesh Bus depot. The journey that led us there and the experience that we had remains among my most cherished memories. It was in the month of October 2016, that we finally decided to go on a road trip, me, and two of my closest friends, Saptaparni and Pratistha. We started from Delhi around 9pm and reached Rishikesh well before time, at 3am. Getting down at an unfamiliar place, at night, without having any clue as to what to do next was not how we wanted to started out journey.
However contrary to our expectations, we found a place to spend at a tea stall in the bus depot. Given our legendary love for tea, it was like finding an oasis in the middle of the desert. We passed the night talking to each other and to the other fellow travelers, accompanied by steaming cups of hot tea. We could see tiny orbs of light far out in the distance and we wondered what were those. As day break came, and the sky became a palette of multi color hues, we finally saw that those were tiny cottages on the mountainside. That feeling of joy when we finally saw the place that we had come to was absolutely beautiful. After spending a few more time and settling the bill, we made our way to the nearest Ganga ghat to spend some more time, before going to our campsite.
Neither did we have access to internet, nor did we carry a map, so we had to depend on the locals for directions and they were very helpful. Though some were a little taken aback on seeing three girls going all by themselves, we did manage to reach the place. The sight of the vast expanse of water stretching on an on and the calm surface of water lying so still was like a balm to our tired and weary souls. We removed our shoes and made our way to the bank. We got in the water and just sat over the few exposed rocks that we could find. I never wanted to leave that place. There was this strange serenity and calm that enveloped the place in a cocoon. I felt like I was inside this transparent bubble where no one could reach me and I could just sit and ponder over things.
Sitting there in the morning, made me reflect upon life and I realized a lot of things. We all go through life with our specific goals and aims. Hardly do we ever pause to think what are we really doing for ourselves. We never listen to our soul, we are so caught up listening to the money making machine. It’s as essential to nourish the soul as well as the body. It is of no use to seek permanence. Thus, in this transitory life we should make sure to live each moment by being true to ourselves, so that we do not have regrets. As I kept looking at the ripples made by the pebbles I threw, I realized that the ripples signify the extent to how much we touch others’ lives. It would be a lie if you say we don’t, because every one’s action impact others in whatever small or big way. Some lessons are learned when you hardly expect it and I learned mine in this way.
If my friends didn’t pull me away from there, I’m sure that I would have received enlightenment sitting on that very shore. We got up and started on our way to the Lakhsman Jhula. I had heard so much about this place from my mother, that I had to see this. I had some grand ideas in my head regarding this one, but the sight of it failed my expectations. But when I stepped on it, it was so much fun. Suspended over the Ganges, this old bridge sways to the rhythm of the wind and stays put in its place for decades. I looked down at the water below and the sky above, it was pretty beautiful to me. However due to constant traffic passing over the bridge we could not get a decent enough shot.
After this, we made our way to the taxi stand and we hired a cab to take us to the campsite. The location for the campsite was absolutely stunning. It was situated right on the bank of the river, so that you could take a dip in the Ganges and hear the sound of the water rushing along right from your tent. It would seem a bit exaggerated but I felt like we were leaving the civilization and entering into some peaceful secluded arena. Surrounded by the hills and the water, the place felt surreal. It was beautiful to go and sit by the river and look at the dying sun as it slowly went down, making room for darkness to envelop.
After settling everything we had a bit of rest and then went for trekking. It was a short trek and there was this beautiful waterfall right at the end of the trail. The water accumulated into this pool where a lot of kids were splashing about. Needless to say that we too were tempted by the idea but refrained from doing so. We came to the nearby tea shack for some tea and snacks and then made our way back to the camp. By the time we reached, it was pitch dark and it got a bit difficult to manage our way. Fortunately after we reached, the food was ready. There were some games going on, but we were tired and just crawled to bed.
How often do you sleep to wake up to this beautiful sight of the looming mountain ranges and this soft dew kissed morning; I looked in awe at the morning sky, the sun had not completely risen, there were patches of darkness, yet it felt like something had changed. The three of us came out of our tent and made our way to the river bank. It was the best morning ever in a long long time.
With the start of the day there were activities which occupied us, like rock climbing and water rafting. We were squealing like kids with excitement. It is a common thing that people like us, who had newly entered adulthood, but still retained traces of a little kid, when removed from the supervision of parents will engage in such activities with as much gusto as possible. It does not matter what the dangers are, tell us that there is thrill and adrenaline rush and we will make sure to do it. The rock climbing event was an unsuccessful attempt on my part while Saptaparni completed it like a pro. Pratistha contented to being the cheerleader from the ground level.
While others were busy taking turns scaling the rock, we got ready for a dip in the water. We got ready and ran to the shore. Again this time, Pratistha, like a well behaved adult, decided to frame our nonsense while we indulged in our whimsical notions. She didn’t even touch the water, no matter how much we begged her to join us. This was our last day at the camp and it would end with the white water rafting, the one activity that we were awaiting for all along. After much deliberation, Pratistha decided to step out of this one too and instead stayed in the car. Little did she know that she was in for one helluva ride. The driver made sure that she got her share of the thrill and he drove the vehicle around twisty mountain passes at breakneck speed. Needless to say, it was the ride of a lifetime indeed. While we battled waves and whirlpools down in the river, she battled to remain calm and not tear the driver’s head off.
The rafting was amazing. I emerged with all my hydrophobia considerably reduced. Unfortunately, I didn’t carry my phone along for fear of it getting wet and thus I have no pictures of the terrific event. We emerged from the river, soaking wet and tired. Our hands were paining a lot but our faces were beaming with happiness. We were like kids who had their first taste of ice cream. All in all, the trip was amazing, though the camping experience was a bit above our budget but, it was worth it. I believe that friends who go on trips together once are bonded for life. That’s because in trips you get to see so many different sides of a person. Living under different circumstances and constantly adjusting to varying situations makes you see the other side of your friend, and you might like it or not.