The Travelling Philosopher

Amidst the noises, the tiredness of the city, I decided to take 15 minutes off my sleep to recall some life changing moments. Ones which gave me a sigh of relief. My trip to Uttarakhand.

1
….dreamland.

I could still smell the naked, sun-kissed runway as I got off the flight. The sun was only showing off though, I realized as the cold breeze rolled itself around me like a blanket. In the company of the most agreeable human being that I happened to know, I was driven into Ruskin Bond’s tales of Dehradun all the way to the Gateway of Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh.

2
Milestones Etched in Memory

Through that ride over the hills, by those huge valleys one moment

3
The valley of solace

and by a calming river the other,

4
A Reflection of the Hindu Religion
4a
Through and through, to The View

I was taken back to the chapter in my English textbook in school, The Night Train in Deoli. I could see the beauty of those thoughtfully carved tales by Ruskin Bond, in the details of the hills, in the sweet smell of winter, in the rustling of trees and in the echoes of flowing rivers.

And what do I speak of God’s own land, Rishikesh?

5
The holy land of Rishikesh, Lord Vishnu

I struggle to find the best of best words for even the word heaven wouldn’t make up for it. It took me standing at the center of Lakshman Jhula

6
Built on some iron and Belief of billions

and very closely watching it move to realize the grandeur with which Mother Ganges flew. Her beautiful sea green appearance made her look like a precious, most valuable emerald of its kind.

Gangaji, Rishikesh
Her Highness, Mother Ganges

While the view around from Lakshman Jhula said so much already, it took me closed eyes to feel the magnificence of the atmosphere in and around the pilgrimage.

9
Preserving Tradition in Modern times

Right across the Lakshman Jhula and a few steps ahead was a pretty little humble cafe, Freedom Cafe. 10Cushions having their share of rest on the mattresses, coffee tables enjoying a warm blanket of delicacies, colorful traditional ceiling lamps lighting the room in gold, exchange of lighthearted banters among other visitors and then there was Mother Ganges flowing peacefully, consistently right by the cafe. What a beautiful experience of busyness and tranquility at the same time, in the same place.

12
A distant view of Freedom Cafe
12a
View from inside Freedom Cafe

What was next had me holding my breath as I trudged down the hill to Camp Wildex for a sleepover. A sleepover which we’d all love but very few of us get to experience, I guess. After a lighthearted New Year’s celebration I slept to the motherly sound of Ganges’ lullabies. That night neither did I have a nightmare, nor a dream. Pure, simple, sleep.

13
Camp Wildex at New Year’s Eve

Waking on first of January 2016 to a huge valley with light strokes of sun rays through the tress down to a glistening Ganga, now THAT was a dream.

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Sadly, it was short-lived as I climbed back up to the roads which was a scary bit but kept the cold at bay for a while.
Up next was Har ka Dwar, Haridwar.

15a
Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar.

With not much time in hand and having been to Har ki Pauri twice before, I offered my prayers to the robust statue of an omnipotent Lord Shiva on my way to Haridwar from Rishikesh. Lord Shiva is the Man!
Most of the time in Haridwar was devoted to some mouth watering street food

17
Haridwar on my Plate!

and the famous Hoshiyarpuri’s special Kheer. A part of Rajaji National Park falling under Haridwar, I was lucky to find myself, briefly, on a safari as I caught a glimpse of a small herd of deer.

18
Sneek Peak at Rajaji National Park

Or maybe I was more than lucky for a picture and yet not lucky enough for a selfie. Hah!

 

My last stop was the aspiration of every parent for their engineer-to-be child. Indian Institute of Technology or IIT Roorkee.

19
The Thomson Building, IIT Roorkee.

Since the goal was to see some key places around Haridwar, I took the privilege to visit Roorkee which was known for its engineering colleges, especially IIT. The reason I call it a privilege is because of its vast area and fine infrastructure of which the most interesting was the Convocation Hall. What’s interesting about the Convocation Hall aka The Hangar is that it was used to harbor planes during World War 2.

20
The Hangar.

So The Hangar which played a small part in the world’s fight for freedom is now celebrating its victory as a Convocation Hall.

With this last thought I ended my journey wherein I sought freedom in self-sufficient small towns and cities of limited means, something that I could not seek even after years of living in a metropolitan city. Freedom and self-sufficiency.21

Photo Credit
Jagrit Kumar

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