After celebrating a colourful Holi in Vrindavan, we returned to Delhi. At the Old Dilli Station, Hearts slumped as we realized the train to Kalka is late by 6 hours. Madly, we rushed to the inquiry counter to find alternate trains. “No” was the cold reply. A 6 hour delay will massively affect the trekking route i planned. Canceling the trip seemed to be a very simple and practical option. Right Now, I was staring at a Boring weekend. I remembered that I had to cancel few other treks recently and felt even bad.
The Last Bus to Rishikesh
Wait a min, Rishikesh trek was one of the cancelled trek and it is close by to Delhi. It seemed to be a good last minute decision. But it’s almost 11 and redbus says last bus leaves at 11 from Kashmere Gate. Hauling our bottoms, we reached ISBT and when the help desk said that the last bus is yet to leave. Me and Joy looked at each other with a grin on our faces.
We arrived at 5am and asked what we needed to know from a tea shop. We walked in the direction of Ram Jhula. Everything was well, except that the name of the place we had to go trekking. The usual, Shivpuri Valley is just right for trekking between the steep ridges. I don’t like mainstream and so, took a bus and told the conductor that we’ll get down when we like it. The places on Google maps has no connection to reality and so we relied on word of the locals. We got down in the next prominent valley to Shivpuri.
Just before we entered the valley, the local police spotted us. They asked us to inform them of our exit from the valley for safety concerns. We went in some 2Km and decided to take a rest, the rush of the last day’s travel made us quite tired. After a refreshing dip in the icy cold water, we took a nap.
I was awoken by shrill sounds of monkeys. My first thought was that they were after the bunch of bananas we had. But it was due to saw some kids. They seemed to be going towards the same direction we planned to. I gathered that there might be a village in that direction. The valley had near zero slope but the path was not easy. It was full of fist sized rocks and we had to go along a zigzag route. Crossing the stream several times was inevitable. We went quite ahead but I couldn’t see the village. So, I asked the next local I ran into.
It was a bad move. He was drunk and tried to scare us with everything he can think of. Elephants, Tigers, Bears, Ghosts, Psychopathic villagers. Took us almost an hour to slip away. I was sure that Rishikesh trek was safe in terms of dangerous animals.
We laid down our camp at around 6 just before it got dark. The location had to be chosen extra carefully as there were evidence of rockslides. Gathering wood, we started a fire but heavy winds kept blowing embers towards the tent and so, I had to douse it.
It was surprising that mobile network was available.
The Night Scare
A weather check online told us that we are in for a thunderstorm. Remember, Camping near a stream is always risky as a flash flood can wipe you off. The risk is doubled when in a gorge. At around 2000hrs, it started drizzling and I was on full alert.
Joy dozed off soon, whereas I kept a watch on the stream. As it inched closer to midnight, the rain became heavier. My eyes bulged out when i saw that the stream almost tripled in height. I was sure that the level will reach our tent if the rain took a worse turn. Keeping my senses alert, I took a nap.
There was a reddish glow inside the tent, replacing the pouring sound of the rain. This is what I experienced when I woke up at around 2. Waking up Joy and we stepped out to a beautiful view of the mountains bathed in the moonlight. A gentle breeze prevailed tingling the skin and Clouds were nowhere to be seen. It was serene.
Believe me when i Say that the above photo was taken at around 0200am, in moonlight with a 30sec shutter speed.
The decision to go for Rafting
In the morning, I was regretting not pushing ahead to trek more deep into the valley. The last day’s rest and the delay by the local villager left time only to trek just 6Km. Since we did not go in deep, we had less to cover on our way back. We reached back to Rishikesh by around 1400 hours. Joy was insisting on going for rafting. I was hesitant at first as I knew that with less water, March was not the best time.
Joy struck an irresistibly good deal with an agent, and I found myself on the raft.
We joined a group of 2 family traveling together who were not keen on sitting in the front. Naturally, me and Joy took the prime positions. Crazily, I had brought my DSLR camera with me. The rafting guide told me it would be wise to leave it in the car. I had a good faith in my Lowepro 55 AW Bag and it found a way into the raft.
I don’t remember how many Rapids we went through as my mind was filled with fun, fun and even more fun. At one point i asked the guide if we could jump into the river to which he agreed. Although not immediately, he gave everyone opportunity to jump into the river. Holding on to a strap, I tried various acrobatics. It was a pity that I couldn’t dunk upside down owing to the safety vest.
I am sorry to say this, but the people who joined us were not actively taking part in rowing. It appeared as if they wanted the rafting to be like a roller coaster on water. There was instances where the guy behind me hit me accidentally with his paddle. Joy took some of those hits when we exchanged sides.
After the long 16Km rafting, we had warm pakodas near Ram Jhula.
The German Bakery
When we were rafting under Laxman Jhula, I had noticed a billboard of a German Bakery. Strudels were my first thought. So, i made a mental note to get them if we had time. Joy also planned to visit a Little Bhudda Cafe. It was recommended by the lonely planet. But since we couldn’t find it, we went to Devraj Coffee Corner. It was indeed a swell choice.
Perched on the edge of a small cliff, it provided a wide view of the popular Laxman Jhula. The Semi open restaurant + Bakery was very popular among the foreign tourist and did offer interesting variety of food. I was in for a disappointment when they told, that strudels were sold out. Settling for a regular pasta and spaghetti, we filled our stomach.
How much did we spend?
In total, for the Rishikesh Trek we spend about 2100Rs. The expense for the Trek, Rafting and food (except the dinner at Devraj’s) would be 650Rs a head. The One way Bus journey was 247Rs and we spent around 500Rs for the Dinner. Then there was additional cost of autorickshaw we hired in Delhi due to limitations of transportation. This is in contrast to the 1200Rs per head for Trekking, Camping and 3 courses of meals provided by commercial establishment.