Following the bordeom of Shimla it was a joy to escape to Rishikesh, a village near the source of the Ganges. It is also famously known for the Beetles staying there in the 60's, where they penned many songs appearing on the White Album. They stayed in Maharishi Makesh Yogi's ashram in Swarg Ashram, until they publicly criticised his methods.
Despite this, Rishikesh is an extremely spiritual place filled with ashrams and temples. Most noticeable is the Shri Trayanbakshwar Temple, built like a wedding cake with 13 stories. It was a joy to wander round, although completely overwhelming as each level has several shrines devoted to the many, many gods of Hinduism. On each level, on the 4 sides is a bell to ring making it quite fun to run up and down the levels sounding the bells out.
Rishikesh is based in the mountains with the Ganges running through. As this is close to the source the water is extremely clean and pure and gorgeous green colour. We hired a motorbike again and took to the mountains to explore. We found a place by the river to dip our toes (and refresh our water bottles). The water was freezing but refreshing compared to the heat (Rishikesh is closer to sea level so was a lot warmer- yey to shorts!). We also saw some rafts going down experiencing the rapids- definitely something we wanted to try.
In the evening we went to the Parmath Niketan Ashram to see the evening prayers. This was a very organised event, especially as it was being filmed. However, this affected the atmosphere of the prayers and it was obviously a tourist hot spot. There were though one or two people completely dedicated to the joy of the prayers, especially an old gentleman who tried to get everyone to dance with him. It was a refreshing sight.
The next day we went white water rafting. There were 9 of us in the raft and 2 instructors. All the instructions were in Hindi, making it hard to understand what I would have to do when. This did not matter though as when we were in the raft it was hard to hear what was being said! We did several rapids ranging from grade 1+ to 4+ (grade 6 being a waterfall). This last one was amazing. It felt like the raft was going to tip over, whilst we still had to paddle and cling on. As only 8 people could paddle, 1 had to sit at the front of the raft and hold on as the waves crashed over them. Mayank offered to do this and said it was the best feeling ever! Personally I loved the paddling and the feel of trying to control the raft over the rapids. We were given a short break to have a dip in the water, which was freezing before we were hauled back on to finish the course. 16 kms of rapids was amazing and certainly has given me a taste to do it again.