Ganges or the Holy river, Goddess Ganga as India addresses it, is said to be a sacred part of the Indian culture. The popular belief is that a dip in this river can remit/wash away one’s sins, eventually leading to Moksha. (Liberation from the cycle of life and death.) I promise this is going somewhere other than sounding like a cultural snippet.
So now that you know the circle of stories that surround the Mighty Ganges, you would understand that it isn’t a 20 something’s first interest. (Not that I’m an atheist, but when you have Thames on your mind,The Ganges are a far cry)
Naturally, why would I be excited to visit this place? Until, one day when I find out that we’re going anyway (This is an entire family of 10 odd people we’re talking about) However, the trip partially had my heart for we were visiting Mussoorie or The Queen of Hills as they term it.
With a bag of essentials and mixed feelings, I set out to Mumbai airport to take the long trip ahead of me. (We were to land in Delhi and take a road trip uptil Haridwar which on Maps is 5 hours, but when you actually start driving, courtesy traffic and roads, you take double the time. Yes, 10 full hours!)
7 days, 3006 kms later, post the trip, I came back with a changed perspective about a lot of things (I’m not being Ranbir Kapoor, the soul searching human on a trip here, but things changed in a way which only do about places when you get there)
Read on my what I have to say about Uttrakhand- A 20 something’s rendezvous with the Ganges and mountains….
1. Delhi Traffic Is Worse Than Mumbai’s: Don’t mistake this for a Mumbai-Delhi clash of Titans but I had always imagined that Mumbai traffic was simply the worst, there’s a reason we express distance in the time it takes for one to commute. But boy, I was wrong and how. Delhi took the lead in tarffic frenzy; it took us 3.5 hours from Delhi Airport to simply get out of the city and on our way back, my heart was in my hand because the traffic made boarding the flight an edge of the seat possibility. The roads are wider there but lane discipline was a bigger joke and traffic control an irony in the city. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Delhi’s real estate infrastructure was a beautiful sight!
2. The Ganges are clean and a representation of India: I had pictured the river to leave traces of the spoken water pollution or witness people washing clothes by the banks. Turns out this streamline of Ganges is not where the problem is, because contrary to my pre-conceived notion, the river was much cleaner (I visited it 3 times during my trip at different times of the day, and my observation remained unchanged.)
Why are the Ganges a representation of India? Our country is a land of colours and so is everything around this Holy river, whether it’s the monks dressed in diverse coloured robes or the flower laden diyas that are let floating in the river. I still remember this interesting instance when we were to take a dip,and our belongings needed to be taken care of; we left it with a monk by the shade (My dad said there was nothing to worry) and turns out he was right. This restored the old school Indian value of faith in me (At least to the point where I could afford it on a trip!)
Speaking of the worldwide popular Aarti at sunset, which is larger than life represents how we as Indians like things to be. On a side note, the evening after the Aarti is the best time to pay a visit at Ganga for a soulful experience. (I didn’t expect to feel this way,but the breeze and serenity is liberating in a way you can only personally experience)
3. The mountains are a no filter moment: I was never really as excited about the mountains until I visited Mussoorie to finally understand why it’s really called the Queen of Hills. The picturesque #NoFilter sight was right before me from everywhere I would look. I would never believe if someone else told me this, but mountains tell stories. You’ll probably spot one at an arm’s distance but each one of them differently treated and located. Sample the pictures here that convey my point.
4. Mussoorie does quirk and simplicity at the same time: It is a hill station of narrow roads that sees people taking the road on foot and dressed in the warmest wools (It was chilly in April). Most of the operations shut by 10 pm or 11 pm latest but yet it is the town of tinsel full of outlets offering tassels and decor. The Chick Choc café brings the cult experience live and Kalsang prepares momos like it is nobody else’s business. That’s when you realise that it was hit by quirk way before Mumbai did!
5. Traveling is about bumping into people: It most often happens that you’re unlikely to meet people residing in the same city but you’ll meet them enroute your destination. My stumbled upon experience was rather good because I bumped into Bani J and I’ve never really been a fan girl towards anyone as such but Bani, I’ve always admired for the woman of substance that she is. I’ve often met Bollywood celebrities, web stars in my capacity of a media professional and have naturally been at the receiving end of best behaviour, but this meet was rather special because I walked up to her randomly to receive the warmest welcome in her personal space (She was ordering her coffee, and absolutely didn’t mind indulging in a hearty conversation.) Bani J, you’re a beautiful human 🙂
P.S: I could probably go on for a while expressing a 20 something’s rendezvous with the Ganges and the mountains, but I’m going to save you the trouble for now. Before I go, I just want to let you know that traveling is a good idea (Cliché as it sounds) no matter where or with whom are you going, you’re bound to come back with a refreshing perspective and you’re never too young or old for any place. Until next time, #StayCurious 🙂