Our family took a weekend sojourn to the Garhwal hills this past week. We drove down to Rishikesh, which is some 350 km from Delhi and onward to Kaudiyala, a tiny hamlet nestled in the hills. The path to Kaudiyala is a long and winding one, reminiscent of the meandering pathways to hill stations. Along the course runs the river Ganga, all green in its shimmering beauty and relentless flow. Dappled by tall tress on both sides, the river criss-crosses its way through the hills. On the way up, we stopped at the Glass House on the Ganges, a Neemrana hotel, which offers five-star facilities in the wilderness. Unfortunately, they had no vacancy, so we drove further. The road wasn’t too good in parts, but the thrill of the journey made up for it. Despite starting early, we reached our resort at 6:30 in the evening. It had gotten dark, and the hills, looking glorious in the pale moonlight were an emblem of soothing magnificence. The Ganga flowed right next to our resort, and all through the night, we could hear the river bed gulping its charge. Rafter camps could be seen on the other bank, with their curiously constructed toilets and bathing spaces. Rafting is a big sport on the Ganga, and on one’s way down the hills, one routinely comes across a bevy of jeeps carrying the rafts back after a day of high excursion.
The next morning, we went down to the bank, via a cemented staircase next to an ancient Shiva temple. The first sign was the soft sandgrains, smooth as silk, that my sister and I walked on barefoot. Next, we sat at the bank with our feet splashing in the water. It’s funny how just the touch of the freezing water can give you the high normally associated with adventure sports. Well, for me anyway, that is where the fun started and that is where it stopped. No rafting, thank you very much!
We halted for lunch at a roadside dhaba, which served delicious mixed vegetables and dal fry. Satiated with our little tour atop the Himalayas, which involved little more than taking in the fresh mountain air, we headed down to the plains. When one is there, it’s easy to forget that one has this other life which involves doing daily chores, running errands — it’s easy to think that one can spend the rest of one’s life in these parts, in the company of gorgeous hills and tardy slopes. Looking at one of the attendants in our resort, I wondered how he could have lived in this place — this place of solitude — for five whole years without flinching; without wishing to go back and live with the living. But there was also a sense of envy at his state — to know that it is possible to survive without the trappings of civilization, to spend one’s time in the quiet, with the woods, in nature’s womb. It’s a delightful sensation, and a spot of nostalgia tangled my heart as we departed.