I arrive in Delhi, but I decide to leave as soon as possible and head to Rishikesh, to have some calm before the storm. Luckily, due to jet lag, I manage a very early start. I rush to New Delhi train station to catch the 6.50am train, only to discover non-Indians need to pre-book and the office is not opened today.
Grrrrrr!!! Great start!!!!
I then discover there are no trains until tomorrow.
In a whirlwind of events, I end up in a travel agent and hell bent on getting to Rishikesh I hastily book a driver. Two hours on the road I realised I paid way, way too much. Doh!!! school girl errors:
- Number 1, I didn’t barter;
- Number 2, I got confused with the exchange rate.
Were the trains really fully booked or did I just get scammed???
Aaaaahhhh!!! I decided it wasn’t going to ruin my trip, so I tried to put it to the back of my mind.
My accommodation was included in the very inflated price, so I was relieved to discover on arrival the hotel was at least in Lakshman Jhula, the backpacking area, and it looked pretty ok from the outside. Hmmmm, the inside was a slightly different story. They were in the middle of renovating, with paint pots and rubble in the reception, and surprisingly I was the only paying guest. On inspection of my “super delux” room, I decided it “would do” for a couple of days.
Rishikesh is the yoga centre of India, initially made famous in the 60′s when the Beatles came to an ashram here and produced many songs for their White Album. However, rumour has it they left on bitter terms due to money demands and inappropriate behaviour to some of the females. John Lennon went on to sing ‘You made a fool of everyone’ as a result. I know the feeling :oS
Despite the ridiculous price I paid and the Fawlty Tower accommodation, I loved Rishikesh. It was exactly what I needed. It is a very beautiful religious town, set on the gushing Ganges, at the foothills of the Himalayas. A very peaceful and calming place.
I just came here to chill out, therefore my few days here were simply spent relaxing in cafes; wandering aimlessly between Lakshman Jhula and Swarg Ashram; avoiding the little, sticky fingered monkeys whilst crossing the swing bridge, paddling in the sacred Ganges and feeling like a famous Bollywood star as everyone wanted to have they picture taken with me (goodness knows why).
However, the peace and calm of the few days in Rishikesh dissolved as soon as we hit the outskirts of Delhi. The guy who only a couple of days ago I complimented on his excellence driving skills turned into a mad man.
Hand constantly on the horn, weaving manically between cars, rickshaws, lorries, bikes and waving frantically at vehicles that failed to move out of his way. Hopefully I gained enough serenity in Rishikesh to survive the next few days in Delhi :oS
Answer: Hmmmm…. no shower head. I had to wash with the bucket and jug, so glad I was staying in the super delux room :oS
Recommended way to get to Rishikesh, from Delhi, is to catch the train from New Delhi station to Haridwar. If possible purchase the ticket in advance from the tourist office, which is located upstairs in the train station or a travel agent. From Haridwar you can then catch a taxi. Unrecommended way is to get scammed by a travel agent and pay far too much for a driver :o(