This is in continuation of our temple tours.All these years we had taken short pilgrimages and we had been keen on a long and preferably arduous pilgrimage. We had zeroed in on Kailash Mansarovar this year and the Himalayan Chardham in 2016. We had finalised the tour operator and had paid an advance. We had timed it so that we are in Manarovar on full moon day. All our plans had come to a naught because of the earth quake in Nepal. So we decided to do the Himalayan Char Dham covering Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath this year and hopefully the Kailash Masarovar Yatra in 2016
We took the early morning flight to Delhi and landed in Del at 8.30am. The car (Ertiga) picked us up from the airport and we set of to Rishikesh. The journey was uneventful and we reached Rishikesh at 3.30 pm.
The hotel was empty as we had chosen an off season to make this trip. There was a slight drizzle in the evening as we started off for the Ganga aarthi. I was praying that the rains would give us a miss as this region is prone to landslides and it is at a peak during the monsoons.
We had reached the banks of the Ganga a little early and the scenery which awaited us was astounding. The Ganga was flowing at a brisk steady pace. It is said that the entire length is sacred and there are certain spots where you feel the intense spiritual energy. Rishikesh is certainly the divine's chosen spot. It was liberating, catapulted from a concrete jungle with its cacophony of words and thoughts and never ending noise into the grandeur and vastness of tranquil nature. From one end of the spectrum to the other.
We were walking along the banks of the river soaking in the moment . The only thing which I can say is that there was no eagerness or anticipation for anything. The normal eagerness to be done with our objective and move on to the next was surprisingly missing. We let the events pan out and play at its own pace which is surprisingly an anti- thesis of my personality. There was a silence in the mind which I cannot articulate further.
We learnt that the aarthi is not at any fixed timing but happens at dusk. So there is a window of +/- 15 mins. The banks had begun to fill up. Since this was the off season the crowds were absent and we could actually see the Ganga aarthi without the pushing and jostling for space.
The aarthi started a little after 6.30 pm. It was a grand spectacle. The hand holding the aarthi was covered by a wet cloth to prevent it from singeing. One person was constantly wetting it with water from the river. Such huge lamps lit fully and the aarthi thereafter is a sight to watch. One did not feel that they have come to witness a spectacle and seemed a part of the ceremony. Very few diyas were lit and floated in the river. It would have been quite a spectacle had there been 100's of diyas.