Rishikesh means the Neemrana’s Glasshouse on the Ganges

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Rishikesh always reminds me to stand still like the Himalayas and flow like the Ganges. So I packed my bags for Uttrakhand, the Devibhoomi- where the sky bows down in front of the Himalayas. And this trip was a birthday gift to me from my mom, as she always reminds me-” we travel to search and come back home to find ourselves there.” It’s true!

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges

This time I booked Neemrana’s Glasshouse on the Ganges at Rishikesh. And it is tucked privately in a magical natural spot. For instance, you can open your windows to another world with clouds floating in and views of the Ganges. A dreamy place to spend a perfect birthday.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
View from my hotel balcony

On 11th Feb, I woke up, stretching my legs off my bed like every day. Like any other day, I got out of bed and walked into the kitchen, where I could smell freshly brewed coffee. I am not a morning person, but today the travel to Rishikesh & the smell of that coffee woke me with ease. My mom kissed me, wishing me a happy birthday. Wow, I realised I have grown old by a year today.

I had coffee & got dressed since my driver was on time. We drove to Rishikesh around 6 am; it was a 6hrs drive from Gurgaon, approx 278km. Looking out the window at the sun’s golden rays is an invitation to the day. In the wash of new light, my face looks like an old photograph of nostalgia yet so beautiful. The halo of the horizon arrives with golden grace—a lovely and warm winter morning.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Entry to Haridwar

I slept throughout the drive till we took a halt for breakfast. We had a south Indian delicacy on my birthday. Only to know there was a surprise birthday cake awaiting me. However, there was strict checking at each toll due to election promotion. Above all this, we reached Neemrana’s Glasshouse on the Ganges by 1.30 pm. Post-check-in, we ordered lunch. It was so serene!

My Birthday Cake

I took a tour of my room, Bee-eater, as it is dedicated to exotic birds of the pristine Himalayan range. The rooms are made of natural stone, surrounded by and nestled between a forest with cobbled pathways. Silence & peace all around, except the gurgling Ganges.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Bee Eater- Neemrana Rooms

The treelines, valley and river below show that the property is spread across the natural topography. Hence, the property is ideal for young, agile, adventurous guests. The room open ups to a verandah, and you can see the Ganges flowing down. The gurgling sound of water & fresh mountain air relaxed my senses & brought tranquillity to my mind. It was simply mesmerising!

After freshening up, we walked you to the hotel restaurant for lunch. I ordered a Tehri Garhwal dish of Dal wadi, pulkas & brownies with Ice cream in a sweet dish. And the food not only satisfied our gastronomic delight but mind, body & spirit too.

Dal Wadi

Post our lunch, we walked down the rustic paths of cobbled stones and shallow steps; that descended to the holy water as a reward! I walked past the tropical plants full of rare birds- I could only hear butterflies- could see few. We climbed down about 150 natural steps that led to a white sand beach of the Ganges in the backyards of the hotel.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Neemrana-White sand beach of Ganges

Since the day was our leisure, I visited the Kankhal in Haridwar. Kankhal is the oldest living part of Haridwar; anciently, Haridwar existed in and around Kankhal. Gradually it grew, and the central part went into the shadows. Kankhal ghats & temples live & breathe the stories of Shiva & Sati, as it’s a part of Panchpuri.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Sati Ghat-Kankhal

I wanted to start with the Daksheshwara Mahadeva temple. Approximately 46.2km from my hotel in Rishikesh means a 1hr 20min drive. Queen Dankor, in the year 1810 AD, built this temple, which was reconstructed in 1962. However, the temple is named after King Daksha, who was the father of Sati. It is believed this place is the source of all the 52 Shakti Peeths (centres of primordial energy) in the world.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Daksheswar Temple

Since the drive was long, I asked my mom to narrate the mythological story of King Daksha Prajapati. She described that the genesis of the temple lies in the belief that Sati married Shiva against her father’s will. King Daksha Prajapati, son of Lord Brahma, organised a grand Yagna where deities, saints and seers were invited except Lord Shiva. Hence Sati visits her father’s home for the Yagna only to be insulted. Out of humiliation, Sati jumps into the Yagna fire and immolates herself.

King Daksh Yagna

Upon hearing the tragic news, Lord Shiva sent one of his Ganas, Veerbhadra, to chop off King Daksh’s head and eradicate it in the yajna fire. However, at the request of all deities, King Daksha Life was restored, and a male goat head was placed on the shoulders of his corpse. The benevolent Lord Shiva did this to complete the yajna that had been disrupted. However, King Daksh repented for his misdeeds when Lord Shiva declared that every year during Sayan month, Kankhal would be His abode.

Revival of King Daksha

Later, the grief-stricken Lord Shiva wandered across the universe, carrying the dead body of his consort. A myth states that Lord Vishnu used his Sudarshan Chakra to separate Sati’s corpse body from Lord Shiva. The chakra chopped off the parts of Sati’s dead body and freed Shiva from his deep mourning. Later the places where the severed parts of the body of Sati fell became Shakti Peeths. Interesting! It’s true that Indian scriptures and literature eventually go back to the story of Sati.

Sati Corpse on Lord shiva’s Shoulder

As the story ended, we reached our destination too. I entered the Daksh Mahadev Temple complex through a small gate with lions constructed on both sides. A very simplistic imitation of our ancient stone temples. It’s a large complex; the Daksha temple has various colours that outline its arches’ contours and layers on Shikhara, complementing the sombre white backdrop.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Daksha temple

I saw a vast banyan tree standing beside the temple with layers of red-yellow colours and Mauli tied around it. It’s a sign of the tree being revered which is worshipped by the devotees visiting the temple. I got into the queue of people entering the temple. I passed by the Yagna Kund, where Sati jumped into the fire. A simple, subtle & beautiful temple; one can stand for a while & admire the temple. But the vast crowd will not give you that chance.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Sacred Banayan Tree

I walked right behind the temple towards the Sheetla Mata temple. She is considered the goddess of infectious diseases like smallpox and chickenpox. This place is supposed to be the birthplace of Sati too. Although the central statue of the goddess seems relatively new, behind the main sanctum, an ancient viagra in stone statue exists. It has piercing eyes and eight arms. Offering my prayers, I walked out and moved further to the Dash Mahavidya temple.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Sheetla Mata

It is next to Daksheshwar Mahadev temple, a beautiful temple dedicated to ten forms of the goddess of Goddess as Mahavidyas- Kali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Chhinamasta, Dhumavati, Baglamukhi, Matangi and Kamala. A giant Sri Yantra in Copper was mounted in the temple’s heart.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Dash Mahadeviya Temple

Before moving towards the ghats, I stepped into the Btahmeshwar Mahadev temple. A small temple beside Dash Mahavidya temple, where Brahma worshipped Shiva. Post offering my prayers, I walked towards the Ganga Ghat. Haridwar, earlier known as Mayapuri, has Ganga flowing on either side. The Daksh Mahadev Mandir, a proper ghat, is erected. And next to the ghat is a small temple dedicated to Ganga. She is personified in her anthropomorphic form.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Goddess Ganga

There is a dried-up Kund or a reasonably large stepwell on the way out of the temple. I assumed it to be Sati Kund opposite it; a signboard mentioned Ancient Sati Temple. However, there was no way to reach this structure that looked abandoned.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Way to Sati Kund

After exploring the ancient Daksha temple, we drove to the Sri Yantra temple. It is a beautiful temple constructed in the shape of a Yantra. Inside the temple, holistic yantras were being worshipped. It was a relatively new construction, with a large hall and open pavilion. After spending some time, we drove to Harihar Ashram.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Sri Yantra Temple

It was 5 pm; hence, we had an hour to cover a few more places before the Ganga Aarti began. The Shivalinga of the Ashram is made of Mercury or Para, called in Hindi. However, I could not see it as the linga is covered with many things, including flowers. Since the Ashram of Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji, there is an old Rudraksha Tree on the campus.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Swami Avdheshanand Ashram

We winded up late; we could visit the Ma Anandmayi Ashram and Ramakrishna Mission since I planned to attend the evening Arti at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram. Driving past this typical old town in north India, I discovered some strands from the past, and an instant smile lit up my face.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Old lanes of Kankhal

Going through the lanes & bylanes, I crossed a tailor old enough yet proud to stitch some shirts. A haveli that belonged to some Akhadas or religious organisations where Sadhus live. Even a Sanskrit school reminded me of my school.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges
Sanskrit School

And few Vaidyashalas, where the medicines were being prepared with minimal mechanisation. They say every plant is nutrition for the body, and every plant in Dev bhumi Uttarakhand is Aushadi or treatment. Kankhal has the quintessential pilgrimage experience with an ancient aura.

Rishikesh means the Neemrana's Glasshouse on the Ganges

But I was late; I missed the Aarti at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram on Rishikesh Ghats. Therefore decided to sit for a while and watch the lighted Diyas on the ghats. It looked like twinkling stars. But it was getting cold; consequently, I had to leave for the hotel. The day was well spent; we had an early dinner & went to bed.

How to Reach

By Air: 

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, approximately 35 km from the city. At the airport, hire taxis or opt for bus services from Dehradun to reach the city.

By Rail:

The Ritesh railway station is a well-connected railway station with all the major cities in India. You need to hire private cabs or take a shared taxi from the station to reach the city.

By Road:

Rishikesh is well-connected via road with Delhi, Haridwar, Dehradun & other close-by towns of Uttrakhand. Buses, private cabs, and shared taxis ply to Rishikesh from these places. However, you can either book a private cab or a shared taxi. One can drive to Rishikesh too.










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