Planning a vacation is one thing, but going for a long-haul vacation is an entirely separate set of challenges. To be in the position to choose a destination on a far-flung side of the world is a blessed one. Deciding to go on an adventure and trek the foothills of the mountains or ski down the slopes covered in fresh, powdered snow instead of lounging on a beach an hour away is a big decision.
Before you do anything, though, you have to plan. For some, planning is hard and boring and for others, the excitement of an adventure is in the planning. Proper planning is an absolute essential when you have only a week or two to play with for your vacation. You not only have to ensure you have all the right travel documents – including any visas for the place you are going. There are so many websites that can tell you what you will need to have alongside your passport and you can check out FAQs here to see if you will need authorization to travel through Europe. You also need to look up the right insurance cover for your vacation; long haul destinations tend to need better coverage so ensure you look into that.
The absolute first thing you need to decide is what you want from your holiday. Are you looking for lush jungle treks or lounging on the white sandy beaches? Are you aiming to city hop your way around a country or scale to the summit of a mountain? Whatever your tastes, you have to check the local advice with the Foreign Office for travelling to ensure you’re covered for any visas you need and health requirements. Some places require you to have injections before you go to protect against certain diseases, and you don’t want to be turned away at the airport because you didn’t check!
Next, you need to decide if you want to create a package holiday, or if you want to book everything separately. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to book a holiday as a package but for others, it makes more sense to book flights separate from hotel. All-inclusive breaks are easier to come by if you book a full package, and if you want less hassle, a package break is an easy option. There are plenty of travel agencies that offer vacations that are quite specialist, including specific skiing holidays and mountain hikes. Wanderlust is infectious and you should think carefully about exactly what it is you want out of your holiday before you book it.
Be practical about your holiday. We’ve talked about travel documents and the possible need for vaccinations for a holiday. Being practical about timelines before you go on holiday is important, because if certain travel authorizations and visas take a little time, you need to plan ahead so that you don’t lose out on a great holiday deal. There is nothing better than planning a break away, so doing it carefully will get you memories to last a lifetime!
With summer nearly upon us, we’re all (hopefully) about to jet off to new and exciting destinations, where we’ll relax, have fun, and broaden our horizons. First, though, there’s a flight to navigate. Some people are natural fliers, while others see it solely as a necessary evil. If you’re in the latter category, then take note, because we’re on hand to make that long journey more comfortable, and – whisper it – but maybe more fun too. Here are five tips to keep in mind before your next journey!
Yes, you have to travel to the airport, and there’ll be a lot of people waiting to check in, so you can’t just wear whatever you want. But on the plane? It’s not a fashion show! You should wear whatever’s most comfortable for you. One neat trick is to have a pair of pajamas (or other comfortable clothing) in your carry-on bag, along with slippers. As soon as you’re on the plane, get changed. You’ll be able to switch back when you land, and no one will be any the wiser that you’ve been wearing some baggy old rags.
You’ll need to have all your devices charged and ready to go before the flight. A laptop is a bit much for a flight, but an iPad can make all the difference between boredom and not minding if you have to circle the landing site a couple of times. If possible, book with an airline that offers free (or at least paid) wifi: there’s nothing quite like playing a casino game or scrolling through your newsfeed when you’re high up in the sky. At the very least, a device that plays music (and of course a pair of headphones) can keep you entertained and your mind off the fact that you’re stuck on a plane.
How often do you get the chance to be locked away, with nothing but your mind to keep you company? If you’re of a creative bent, then this a golden opportunity that you need to make the most of. Once the plane has settled into its journey, take a look out at the setting sun as it falls over the earth, and get thinking. It’s an ample time to write, think of new ideas, or just enter a reflective state about your life.
Are You a Talker?
It would be great if you could have three seats to yourself, but in all likelihood, you won’t. There’ll be people next to you. Which gives you a chance to learn about someone new! Your lives will only overlap for a few hours, so get to them, have a nice time, share a drink, and then wave goodbye. There’s something interesting about everyone, if only you take your chance to ask them!
When All Else Fails
If you think there are no circumstances under which you’ll be a happy flier, you can also splash the cash and opt for first class. Trust us; you won’t mind a long flight when you’re traveling in style!
In an ideal world, every trip will go as smooth as can be. There will be no problems, and we travel with complete confidence and no hiccups. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and things go wrong all the time.
So, here’s my list of the top travel troubles and how you can cope with them:
When your flights get cancelled, it can ruin your travels. It prevents you from getting somewhere on time and can cause a great deal of stress. Especially if it’s your flight home, as you end up lost in a foreign country with no way of getting home.
It’s hard to cope with this travel trouble, but there are some things you can do. Mainly, try and have a plan B wherever possible. This doesn’t mean you should book multiple flights, but more that you should prepare for the worst. For example, reserve a room at a hotel near the airport for the day of your flight. Then, if your flight gets cancelled, you have somewhere to stay for the night. If your flight isn’t cancelled, you can cancel the reservation free of charge (check with the hotel that you can do this, most allow you to, but some don’t).
Losing your luggage is one of the worst travel troubles out there. When an airline loses your stuff, it can put you in a really bad position. All of your clothes and precious belongings have gone, leaving you stranded with nothing.
Thankfully, you can cope with this problem in two ways. Firstly, you can prevent it from happening by avoiding paying for hold luggage. Try and only use hand luggage, and you can keep your bags with you at all times. This may be hard for some people, but you can always pay for extra hand luggage too if you can’t keep it all in one bag. The second idea is to help you cope with the aftermath of some lost luggage. What you should do is buy travel insurance to protect you when this happens. There are loads of places like GoBear that compare travel insurance so you can find the best one. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be protected if any of your luggage goes missing or gets damaged. You can claim compensation and get replacements or money for anything you lost.
Most of us like bringing foreign money with us when we travel. This is because it can cost a lot to use our cards, and our banks may see activity in a foreign country and block our account as a security measure. This leads to a long phone conversation as you prove who you are and get the account unblocked. So, we use cash, but what happens when we run out? It can cause a big problem for us, particularly if we didn’t bring our card at all.
Well, coping with this issue is easy. First, always bring more than you need, just in case! Secondly, get a travelcard and load it up with money. You can use this card at ATMs to withdraw cash without being charged fees!
There you have it, three travel troubles complete with ideas on how to cope with them. Now, you can travel with confidence this summer.
Everyone will have their own pleasures in life. Whether you love a hearty plate of food or a fine piece of art, it’s these small luxuries in life that help to keep us alive and kicking. For some, it will always be travel. Travel is one of the few things in life that we spend money on, yet it makes us richer. From experiencing different cultures and meeting new people, to seeing some of the world’s most breathtaking sights and enjoying different climates, travel can really broaden your horizon.
So, it’s not all that surprising that more and more are enjoying a well-traveled life with their children. When you travel as a family, not only are you benefitting from a wealth of experiences, your children are too. You can help to shape their minds, perspectives and even their futures by filling their lives with travel. And, of course, you’re making lots of memories at the same time. If you’re interested in adding a lot more travel into your family life, whether you’re on a tight budget or not, here’s how you can do it and make a life full of travel work for your family.
Firstly, when you’re planning your travels, you’re going to want to be very selective as you pack. Whether you’re going on a summer-long adventure, or on a weekend trip, you want to make every item count. When traveling, it’s always best to pack as little as possible, so that you can get from A to B easily, but you also want to make sure you have all your bases covered. With everything from clothing for the right climate and any survival equipment you may need, you need to pack smart.
Do Your Homework
Alongside packing, you’re also going to want to make sure that you get all of your paperwork and research in order before you leave for your travels. Whether you need to sign up for the Visa Waiver Program before coming to the US, or getting something similar sorted for international travels, or find yourself some insurance, these are the things you should cover off as you plan your journeys.
When it comes to booking your travels themselves, make sure that you shop around. If you’re on a budget, you want to make sure that you get flights or hotels for the best price possible – especially if you want to travel often. Traveling can cost you as little or as much as you’d like it too. You just have to shop around and be flexible with the places you’d like to stay or see at different times throughout the year. If you can grab a good deal on one place, snap it up now and see somewhere else later.
Make The Most Of Breaks
Another key trick to ensuring that your family can travel as much as possible is to utilize the school breaks well. Not only do you have a whole summer to fill with travels if your schedule permits it, but you can also get a lot done in short week breaks or even in a weekend. By being flexible and even working with plans last minute, you could see a lot more of the world.
When you start to travel more, you’re opening yourself and your family up to so many incredible cultural experiences. Even if our beautiful United States, there is a lot of heritage to take in – so make sure you see it. It’s a great way for you to boost your kid’s education and ensure that they learn about their history, as well as the history of other cultures around the world. It’s these kinds of experiences that can nourish their little minds as they grow.
Try New Things
It’s always great to open yourself up to new experiences, but the idea can really come alive when you travel. With a wealth of different activities, foods, cultures, experiences and more, available to you, start to say yes to things when you’re traveling. You may find yourself on so many different adventures by just being open to trying new things.
And finally, while you’re traveling with your family, encourage your children as much as you can to embrace every experience. Encourage exploration and curiosity and adventure in them. Not only will this allow them to open up their minds and see things differently, but you’ll also be installing a hunger for travel in them, which they can go on to use in their futures or enjoy with their own families as they grow up.
When you have a tripped planned, whether it’s a camping trip or a luxury break one of the things you need to do well before you leave is pack. Now, a lot of people hate packing. They see it as a chore to be over and done with as quick as possible. So then can get to the airport and get on with their trip. But not me. For me packing is a joy, as well as a very valuable exercise and below I will explain why.
It helps you transition from everyday life to vacation life
One of the biggest benefits packing your suitcase is that it helps you get from daily life into vacation life. It’s a symbol that the waiting and dreaming are almost over and you are about to embark on that adventure that you have planned for ages.
All those times you have dreamed about laying on the beach with a cocktail in your hand when you were having a hard day at work, or with the kids, and it’s all about to come true. Packing helps you build you excitement, and that is why it can truly be a joy.
Of course, it’s not so much fun if you haven’t got everything you need to hand to make it as pleasant an experience as possible. So remember to get the washing and ironing done before hand. Then you will just have those last travel items to purchase before it’s bon voyage!
It ensure you will have the best time Something else that I love about packing is the way a little forward thinking can help you the best time when you’re away. All you need to do is think carefully about the items that are essential to you.
For folks with kids, it’s likely to be their bottle sterilizsers, the kid’s cuddly toys or their favourite game to play on the beach. For couple heading to a luxury, location is might be their Kindles, makeup, or sunscreen. So they can sit on the beach without a care in the world.
That means all you need to do is think about the things that will maximise your experience, and make sure to pack those. It make you feel calmer
Packing is also a great activity because it’s a way of putting any anxieties to rest. This is because you know if you pack right that you are prepared for any eventuality.
Travel, while wonderful can also be stressful at times, and that is why it’s important to pack items that will minimise this. It could be a thing like a neck pillow for the flight or your insurance and travel documents, which will get you through the electronic travel authorisation system in place at many airports now. Or it could be the emergency number for the police and a few key phrases for when you get there.
It helps you to look critically at what you have. Lastly, one of the most fun things about packing to be are looking for all the clothing items, jewellery and accessories to see what you have. Not only do you get to pick out the things that are most suitable. But you also get to see how blessed you are with all the item you do have. As well as rediscover some things that you might have forgotten all about.
The Lemon Tree Hotel Company, the third largest Indian hotel chain by asset ownership in the country, announced the formal opening of its twin properties in Gurugram, thereby becoming the largest owner of hotel rooms in the millennium city.
Adding a collective inventory of just under 400 rooms, Lemon Tree Hotel,Sector 60 and Red Fox Hotel, Sector 60, located just off Golf Course Extension Road and a short distance from the key business hubs also houses a separate Convention Center with commercial and office space making it the largest accessible MICE destination in Delhi NCR.
In line with the fresh, fun and spirited ambience of Lemon Tree, these properties promise to delight its upbeat guests with their vibrant interiors, scrumptious food, impeccable facilities and the distinctive warm and friendly services that Lemon Tree is known for.
Speaking on this occasion, Vikramjit Singh, President, Lemon Tree Hotels said: “We are delighted to reach a milestone of six hotels in the city. Gurugram continues to attract business and leisure travelers throughout the year and the launch of these twin properties along with a Convention Center, only brings to fore the potential of this market and LTH’s successful run here.”
With this launch, Lemon Tree group now commands a joint inventory of 530 rooms in the city.
Designed on the principles of universal design, these special hotels allow people of varying abilities to access all areas of the hotel with ease and offer specially designed room and multiple suites for differently-abled guests.
They are a part of a unique initiative adopted by the company, wherein, Lemon Tree has taken its initiatives on inclusion to a new benchmark. Not only are these hotels 100% accessible for people of all abilities, but are also run by a special team.
As part of the group’s HR strategy, we usually hire 12-15% employees with disability and a similar percentage of persons from the economically and socially marginalized disadvantaged segments (EcoSoc) of the society. In a first-of-its-kind endeavor, 70% of the hotel staff in Lemon Tree Hotel, Sector 60 is either from the Economically and Socially marginalized segments of the society (EcoSoc) or differently abled (Employees with Disability).
Aradhana Lal, Vice President, Sustainability Initiatives, Lemon Tree Hotels explains: “We truly believe in mainstreaming and including people with disabilities and those from the marginalized segments in our employee base and provide them the same opportunities as others in order to realize their full potential. This launch is special to us. We are proud to introduce our new hotels in Sector 60, Gurugram run by a truly special team”
Strategically nestled between high-end residential societies, the twin hotels offer easy access to HUDA Metro Station, Leisure Valley and Sector 29, the entertainment district of the city, besides being 20 minutes away from Signature Towers, IFFCO Chowk and the Mall mile on MG Road.
Lemon Tree Hotel, Sector 60 has been designed with innovative interiors and inspiring artwork that make for an ambience that is refreshing, contemporary and stylish. It has an inventory of 104 stylish rooms and suites, a 24×7 multi-cuisine coffee shop – Citrus Café and a hip recreation bar – Slounge in addition to a business center, a fitness Gym and open-air swimming pool.
Red Fox Hotel, Sector 60 is an economy business hotel and offers 154 smart rooms and suites, a multi-cuisine coffee shop – Clever Fox Café, a Cyber Kiosk, an efficient meeting room, a well-equipped fitness centre and laundry service. The hotel welcomes guests with its fresh bold interiors as well as crisp and clean rooms and delights with its unbeatable value and reliable safety standards.
With the opening of this new property, Lemon Tree Hotels now owns and operates 40 hotels in 23 cities with over 4100 rooms and over 4500 employees.
Who would not want a vacation thats long enough to indulge in luxury, exploring new places and sometimes just to unwind, but most of the times the worry of our work getting suffered always cuts down on our vacation. But not anymore, those who seek loooooong vacations can now do so without any apprehensions, you wanna know how..?
Remote Life is a program that allows a person to travel the world and work from anywhere with likeminded people. The Remote Life was launched on 5th of December 2016 and in just about a few months they have already been able to garner 670+ registrations for this years program.
The program brings together professionals, freelancers, digital nomads and entrepreneurs to work, live and travel. It aims to get more and more people out of their cubicles into the real world. Work should not come in the way of travel, and this is where remote life helps you bridge the gap.
What does your program include:
24*7 workspace with high-speed internet
Private bedroom in villa/apartment
Flights between destinations
Visa, Insurance & local SIM
Daily local cuisine/meals
Airport pickup & drop
Lots of pictures!
Meetup with local entrepreneurs
Here is a glimpse of what it would actually be
Speaking on the concept Nischal Dua, CEO & Founder, The Remote Life, said, he was inspired from his own travel plans and during one of his trips to Himalayan Base Camp, the idea germinated. His main main aim was to let everyone enjoy travel without hampering their work, his goal is to provide people the perfect work life balance, out of this world travel experiences while also maintaining their professional requirements.
Over the last few years, Nishchal Dua has built 2 companies and traveled 7 countries in a row. His mission is to help people in changing their work lifestyle.
In addition to it, he is a serial entrepreneur, frequent traveler & trekking freak. With The Remote Life, he is aiming for a diverse, balanced group with people from different backgrounds, experiences and regions. Everyone is verified through public social profiles and the founder himself makes sure to personally call up before finalizing the participants.
How does The Remote Life Work
They take care of the research, organization, and booking of the flights, stay, desk space, and everything else so that one can see the world, without leaving his/her work. Well, Remote Life does not provide remote jobs infact Remote Life is a group of like minded people that travel the world while working, not a holiday or vacation package.
Travel has always been an integral part of every religion and not everyone is acquainted with the fact. Irrespective of the religion, pilgrimages have always been designed in such a way that the pilgrim encounters new experiences away from his/her vicinity. People are caught up so intricately in the web of life that they forget to see the world and explore a new perspective. A pilgrimage is one strict reminder.
Kevin Duggan woke up to a similar reminder when he decided to visit India a second time. The same place where his sister Karyn Duggan had lost her life in 1998. Kevin had come a long way from New Zealand with his bike to traverse a considerable part of the Lesser Himalayas.
He had many unanswered questions and bringing a companion along would have defeated the whole purpose of the trip. Even after facing objections from his dear ones, the 53 year old set afoot on his journey alone!
He cycled along Shimla- Narkanda- Rampur- Tapri- Reckong Peo- Spello- Pooh- Nako- Tabo- Kaumik- Kaza- Battal and all the way to Chattru in Spiti Valley. A 900 kms stretch on two wheels through mettle testing terrain. His idea was not to cover the distance from Point A to Point B but to ‘live’ the experiences that came along his way. Roadside workers inviting him over lunch, random stranger trekking a 50km patch over a mountain pass with him, pedestrians shouting out ‘Julley’ and many more overwhelming experiences is what emblazoned his quest. The ‘India’ Kevin had imagined ten years ago, was quite the opposite in reality now.
He felt spiritually connected to the place and feels that some part of his sister is still in that valley.
It was a mental challenge for Kevin to come back to India. He believed that harder the challenge is, greater efforts are required but if you meet that challenge; greater the rewards!
His rewards, as he genuinely puts it were, “meeting you (the 4Play.in Team) guys and having seven adopted Indian sons”.
Everyone has a different way of traveling, some travel in groups, some aim in covering different spots on the globe but for Kevin, travel has a lot different meaning. Keeping himself in shape is what has helped him discover the world the way he wanted to.
Made of true grit and due to a passion for the outdoors, Kevin Duggan still going strong at the age of 53. Having completed one of the most prestigious endurance races on the planet, His quest for exploration has attained an undying character. Working regularly on his fitness level, he is quite a challenge to the status quo of modern athleticism.
Here is a video showcasing Kevin’s intimate pilgrimage journey.
The video is created by 4 Play. 4Play is India’s first adventure sports channel which curates stories from the outdoor extreme and adventure sports. They are the outcome of roughing it up in the outdoors, living on the cutting edge of what may be termed as extreme, and basking in the experiences that came along. For more interesting stories log on to http://4play.in and witness adventure sports like never before.
Everest: Mount Everest, earth’s highest mountain is located in the Mahalangur mountain range in Nepal and Tibet. Its peak is 8,848 meters (29,029 ft) above the sea level. It was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the British surveyor general in India. It is also known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and in Tibet as Chomolungma. The international border between China and Nepal runs across Everest’s precise summit point. Neighboring tallest mountain peak of Everest includes Lhotse, Nuptse and Changtse.
Trekking: Because Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. It has attracted considerable attention and climbing attempts. There are mainly two routes for climbing: one approaching the summit from the southeast in Nepal, also known as standard route and the other from north in Tibet. It remained the difficult peak for decades though it was finally known to have been summated by 1953. The climbing pair of New Zealander, Edmund hillary and Tenzing Norway, a Nepali sherpa record first to climb its peak at 11:30 am on 29 May 1953. They climb via south Col Route. After that, expedition era took a rapid pace due to increase in people’s interest to climb Everest.
Early Expedition: Initially in 1921 British reconnaissance Expedition, the northern approach to the mountain was discovered by George Mallory and Guy Bulloct. They climbed the north Col to an altitude of 7,005 meters (22,982 ft). The British returned for a 1922 expedition, George Finch climbed with oxygen for the first time. He reached at an altitude of 8,320 meters (27,300 ft). It was the first time a human reported to climb higher than 8,000 meters. The next expedition took place in 1924. There were two attempts in which first was aborted due to bad weather. The other attempt delivered by Norton and Somerwell. They managed to reach 8,550 meters (28,050 ft). In 1950, Bill Tilman and a small party under took an exploratory expedition to Everest through Nepal along the route which has now become standard route. Before this, all expeditions were taken place from the north of Tibet. The Swiss expedition of 1952, led by Edouard Wgss-Dunant was granted permission to attempt a climb from Nepal. Raymond Lambert and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were able to reach a height of about 8,595 meters (28,199 ft) on the south ridge, setting a new climbing record. Tenzing’s experience was useful when he was hired to be part of the British expedition in 1953.
Conquered Everest: Everest was conquered in 1953 when it was finally summated by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. The next successful ascent was three years later in 1956 by Ernst schmied and Juerj Marmet. This was followed by Dolf Reist and Hans-Rudolf von Gunten on 24 May 1957 and so on. Despite the effort and attention poured into expedition, it was only summated by about 200 people by 1987. Everest showed itself to be the most difficult place for decades, even for serious attempts by expert mountaineers and large national expeditions, until the commercial era picked up in the 1990s. By March 2012, Everest had been climbed 5656 times with 223 deaths. By 2013, the Himalayans database recorded 6871 summits by 4042 different people.
Commercial climbing: According to Jon Krakauer, the era of commercialization of Everest started in 1985, when the summit was reached by a guided expedition led by David Breashears that include Richard Bass, a wealthy 55 year old businessman and an amateur mountain climber with only four years climbing experience. By the early 1990s, multiple companies were offering guided tours to the mountain. Rob Hall, one of the mountaineers who died in the 1996 disaster, had successfully guided 39 clients to the summit prior to that incident. By 2016, most guided services cost between 35 to almost 200 thousand dollars. However, the services offered vary widely and its “buyer beware” when doing deal in Nepal. There are “budget” travel agencies which offer logistic support for such trip. However, this is considered difficult and dangerous. Many climbers hire “full service” guide companies, which provide a wide spectrum of services including acquisition of permits, transportation to/from base camp, food, tent, fixed ropes, medical assistance, experienced mountaineer guide and even porter.
Tour companies: There is several tour companies providing base camp, trekking and adventure sports and HimEx (Himalaya Expeditions) is one of the best tour Company for Everest base camp trek. It is licensed from Department of Tourism and recognized by Ministry of Tourism, Government of Nepal. You can contact on website i.e. www.himexnepal.com. Its head office is in Kathmandu, Nepal which ensures to provide best facilities at reasonable rates. Do follow them and get all the information you need on Everest Base Camp and Trekking.
Nestled scenically in the laps of Sivalik Range in Himalayas; is a spiritual town of Rishikesh. Located in Dehradun district in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand, the holy city is a revered pilgrimage center among the Hindus. Burgeoned in natural splendor the city is a Gateway to Himalayas and an origination point for the “Char Dham” pilgrimage; one of the most sacred pilgrimage tours — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. Flourished at the foothills of Himalayas this sanctified city gets its name “Rishikesh” after Lord “Vishnu” which means ‘lord of the senses’.
The city comprises of the main town of Rishikesh along with few distinct sections encompassing hamlets and settlements on both the banks of the river Ganges. Primarily the main town Rishikesh comprises of an expansive commune known as “Muni-ki-Reti” meaning “sands of the sages” and the home of Sivananda Ashram; The Divine Life Society founded by Swami Sivananda popularly known as Sivananda Nagar. The north of Rishikesh comprises of the temple section of Lakshman Jhula, and a little further north are the assorted Ashrams around Swarg Ashram on the east bank.
The sacred river representing country’s piousness, the Ganges flows through Rishikesh. Shredding her teen image of playful rivulet flowing from the Shivalik Ranges of the Himalayas, here she grows into a blooming young river commencing her journey further into the plains of northern India. Her turquoise hued clear water gushing swiftly with expeditious currents paints a devastatingly exquisite scene. Thousands of devotees, pilgrims and tourist throng the city each year from India and overseas. The feeling of divinity captivates one’s senses even whilst staring the banks of Ganges adorned with delicate flowers, and a converting of solitary Saints, Monks, priest and spiritually awakened individuals passing by.
Rishikesh, ever so often tagged as “the world capital of Yoga”, houses numerous yoga centers those are much older than any other yoga organizations in the world. One of the oldest yoga establishments is Kailas Ashram Brahmavidyapeetham; an institution dedicated to preserve and promote the traditional Vedantic Studies has been a part of this institution for more than 120 years. Legendary personas such as Swami Vivekananda, Swami Ramanand Tirtha and Swami Shivananda were alumni of this institution prior commencing their noteworthy journeys. The tinsel town has been a silent observer of lives of several yogis and Sages having lived and practiced penance here. It is said and well – believed that meditation in Rishikesh brings one closer to self – realization and “Moksha” and so does a dip in the divine river that flows throughout.
The town awakens at the early hours to the bellowing of conches and the “Vedic” chants. Blossoming with fragrant lilacs, roses, gerberas and holy basil which is considered of prime significance in offerings among the Hindu Gods the spirituality then emanates in the air. Most of the congregations of worshippers take a dip in the river as a part of a ritual and then proceeding ahead to perform “Pujas” in the temple. Later the Gods are bejeweled in the colorful garlands, vermilion, turmeric and are ornamented in silk attire. Array of colognes emanate off the incense sticks followed by rhythmic chanting of prayers or “Vedas” in the temples mesmerizing one’s curiosity.
The bridge that bridges the banks of River Ganges is popularly termed as “Laxman Jhula” and is a well-known landmark in the city. The existence of this bridge dates back to the mythological era of “Ramayana” and is believed that “Laxmana” the brother of Hindu deity Lord Rama, crossed river Ganga on jute rope where the present bridge stands today. The 450 feet long jute-rope Bridge was replaced by iron-rope suspension bridge in 1889 by a British Officer but unfortunately it was washed away in the 1924 floods and afterwards was then replaced by a stronger present bridge. To the west of the bridge stands a temple devoted to “Laxmana”; the brother of Lord “Rama”. “Laxman Jhula” offers an astonishing view of ravishing beauty of River Ganges. Watching the mountains roofed in green belt with turquoise hued Ganges flowing by and chilly breeze swirling around, crafts the bridge as a great place to be at. The river here abounds of fishes and often pilgrims are seen feeding a stream of fishes from the bridge or at a place where the fishes gather while the pilgrims drop food for them. A boat ride down the river is recommended as it offers a panoramic view of the bridge. The background colored with lush green mountain ranges and an unblemished steely grey Lakshman Jhula in the foreground seems like a portrait in itself autographed by Mother Nature.
Blending its modern appearance with inner enlightenment the 13 storey Kailash Niketan Temple is the next stop post crossing Laxman Jhula. The Temple houses several sculptures of Gods and Goddesses and is a pure example of contemporary manifestation enlightened with the rays of serenity and spirituality. The experience of spiritually is not only limited to the plains of Rishikesh but is also felt at an altitudes. Commanding an extravagant view of the region, situated on the altitudes of 5500 feet, abiding in equanimity is the legendary temple of Nilkanth Mahdeo. Encircled by serenity of the forests the temple is situated on a hilltop above “Swarg Ashram”. Legend goes that in the mythological era when the ocean was being churned for ‘Amrit’ (Potion for immortality), first venom oozed out and this was the place where lord Shiva had drunk the venom to save the mankind. After consuming it, his neck had turned blue with the poison and hence he was called ‘Neelkanth’, the one with blue neck. Every year in the months of monsoon – mid July to August – fairs are held where thousands of devotees visit temple, taking a holy dip in the fresh water spring within temple complex pilgrims proceed to pay visit to the lord. Scorched eyes long to have a view of the Lord Shiva who has been marking his presence since ages and eras, in a serene pose yet so very powerful and commanding by nature, the deity welcomes and blesses one and all.
To the east of the Ganges is a place bustling with activities all the times, better known as “Swarg Asharm”. Ashrams, temples, restaurants, shops, eating joints are well developed in this area. Founded by Swami Vishuddhananda fondly known as “Kaali Kamli Wale”, the ashram is one of oldest in Rishikesh and is adorned by many statues. The spiritual air of the spiritual soul pacifies one and all. Crossing over the “Ram Jhula” towards the western bank of Ganges is Shivanand Ashram: The Divine Life Society: One of the oldest and most active ashrams in the area. A doctor by profession, Swami Shivanand renounced his life in Delhi and came to Rishikesh in the year of 1924 and set up Divine Life Society in 1936. He authored approximately 200 books on yoga, health and spiritual life prior his death in 1963. The ashram organizes regular yoga classes, meditation courses and performs and promotes studies in texts like Upanishads and Gita very often. Spiritual and activities related with Hinduism are the practiced every day. The ashram runs a biggest charitable hospital from which hundreds of localities avail the facilities of free of charge medical services.
Located in the heart of the ancient town of Rishikesh near Triveni Ghat on the banks of River Ganges, abiding in silence since centuries is an aesthetic “Bharat Mandir”. “Adiguru Shankara Charya” built the temple; a renowned saint who lived in the 12th century. The internal chamber of the temple houses an idol of Lord Vishnu, which is carved out of a single rock of “Saligram”; a rock that possess divine powers. An awning of “Shree Yantra” shelters from above the idol. The temple also houses several other old statues, coins, pots and other things of historical significance.
Nothing seems phenomenal as the “Ganga Aarti” of “Triveni Ghat”. The ghat is a foremost place where pilgrims crowd to take a holy dip and a spectacular “Ganga Arati” is performed regularly in the dusk. Being a principle place for taking a holy dip in, the Ghat derives its name due to confluence of three rivers namely, Ganga, Yamuna & Sarawati. The most enthralling and eye – catching event at the dusk being “Ganga Arati” scores of devotees throng the steps of ghat at the dusk for performing Arati. The priest and saints carry out the ritual, while the fiery orange fuelled with multiple hued golden flames transpire out of massive pure ghee lamp being rotated in the circular motions brightly lighting up the whole place. The Triveni Ghat then witnesses the illuminated statue of Lord Shiva amidst the river and Vedic chants fill the atmosphere in the praise of the river Ganges. The bellowing conches and religious songs spiritually awaken the atmosphere with divinity blending in air mesmerizing one to the tunes of the songs sung in devotion. It is here at dusk, that scenario quenches one’s thirst for peace and the soul entwines into the feeling of oneness connecting itself with the universe. It is then when the whole cosmos conspires together to gift mankind the tranquility and inner joy beyond expression or one’s imagination. Later devotees float their respective leaf bowls filled with flowers and an oil lamp into the river. The reflection of lamps enamels the water with golden ripples. The radiance emitting out of the statue of Lord Shiva amidst the river soothes the tired souls and eyes follow the lamps till they disappear. The ceremony symbolizes a revival of hope, remembrance of the kind deeds of the river since ages and praying for the betterment of the mankind.
Rishikesh is one of the holiest communes in India and every corner of the city is considered as sanctified one. The city possesses the magic of a casting spell to transform and balance the inward journey with an outward adventure. Dwelling on the laps of lower Himalayas, surrounded by untouched countryside with panoramic views, numerous village treks, jungle walks in rhododendron forests, with the banks of Ganges that is dotted with numerous ancient temples transforms the holy town into a heaven making one say “Come home to Rishikesh”