03/11/15

1st November 2015

India0467

Sunday, rest day. We have just completed two days in Rishikesh in the foothills of the Himalayas. It began with a 4:30am start, travel to the Shri Ram school to collect everyone then the slow and loud progress through Delhi traffic to the train station. Ahead lay a 6 hour train journey on an Indian train to Haridwar in the Himalayas and from there a rocky bus ride of an hour or so to the camp. Magnificent sunsets, sheer drop mountain roads, random troops of monkeys and that inevitable head lolling,  nodding off that comes from lack of sleep.

We arrived grateful for the lack of motion and welcomed into the camp, nestled in the hillside. Glamping Himalayan style where the wildlife share with you. The girls tried the climbing wall with typical enthusiasm. The promise of chocolate at the top may have helped though sadly no one reached the summit to claim it.

We then headed down to Rishikesh, made famous when the Beatles set up the Ashram near there and it is still teeming with devotees (Beatles and otherwise). It's a crazy route down one side of the river and across a teeming and narrow bridge to the site of the Aarti ceremony. Prince Charles was here recently for this ceremony but I'm pretty sure he didn't dodge cows, holy men and scooters to get there. The ceremony is a pooja, light ceremony, with lamps lit, waved and sent into the Ganges amidst crowds chanting and in this case a Viennese Orchestra! After awhile you stop questioning; India is full of surprises. 

The following day we were up early for Yoga on the banks of the Ganges as the sun rose then off to white water rafting. We paddled, splashed each other's boats, fell in and jumped in. The girls and Ms Farag courageously cliff jumped into the river (it was a small cliff) and we floated majestically downstream, passed the site of the previous night's Aarti and observed the myriad lives played out along the banks of this sacred river.

A long train journey back to the bustle of Delhi, time wth exchange partners at home and then off to Agra for the Taj Mahal.

Desmond Deehan

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