A year since I ran my first Himalayan run, I sit down to write about my experience. I had been on a hunt for an exotic run in India when I heard about Running and Living’s Rishikesh Cross Country run. I signed up for the 15k trail run and geared up for the mountains. Most of you know how much I enjoy running (read: Running in Lithuania – My First Half Marathon Abroad). But when you throw in a vacation to the mix, you get a girl giddy with glee! 🙂
Austerity Before Indulgence
My first night in Rishikesh was an Airbnb find. It was a meditation centre run by monks from Spain. The place was slightly expensive, considering how basic the room and facilities were. But if you decide to stay here, don’t forget to use my Airbnb travel credit – www.airbnb.co.in/c/ode2 for a 1679 INR (~25 USD) discount.
Getting to Know the Ganga
Before the sun could set, I hopped and skipped over to one of the stepped embankments of the River Ganga. This river of national pride is rapidly becoming an open drain that carries garbage along its course. This garbage is of a special kind – full of paraffin, flowers, sweets (used as prayer offering) and toxic oils. It worries me to think of all the innocent fishes which are dying a slow death in what might otherwise have been a holy place for them to swim in.
Flavours from the Street
After the disturbing sight of the rituals at the Ganga, I strolled over to the inner sanctums of Rishishesh, to explore its street food. If you have been cheating on your workout, this is a dangerous place for you to be. There is gorgeous looking food peeping out of every roadside establishment – kachoris, samosas, pooris, and all of their cousins. I gave in to my temptations and sat down inside a shop where the man behind the cooking pot knew that his stuffings of sin were stronger than my weak spirit.
Spanish Food in Rishikesh
After feasting on North Indian street food, it was time for me to eat some more! 😀 I had the Spanish dinner (read: Lleida – A Reminiscence) which a new monk freshly prepared for me. I had a bowl of salad, baked bread, tortilla de patatas and pisto (a ratatouille of sorts). This meal was indeed the best part of my stay at this homestay.
Rafting through the Rapids
I spent my next morning doing what every adventure junkie does in Rishikesh – RAFTING!!! 🙂 White water rafting was not new to me (read: White Water Rafting in Kolad). But rafting in the Ganga is an experience of a lifetime! We negotiated some really nasty rapids, some as difficult as level-4. At the end of the last rapid, our guide let us jump into the river and swim in water that was easily 90 feet deep.
Nature never stops showing me how small I am in the grander scheme of things. My existence and dreams and opinions simply don’t matter when I look up at the sky and see how big the real world really is. I smiled as I saw the Himalayas from inside the river – so majestic and inviting (and the reason why in a few months I did my first Himalayan trek).
A Luxury Retreat
My next two days were spent in the most opulent resort in all of Rishikesh – Raga on the Ganges. I will do a separate blog post on my stay there as I was thoroughly impressed by their hospitality. My lodging and boarding was fully sponsored by them. It is quite luxurious to have the waters of the River Ganga flow through your shower! 😉
The Day of the Run
My big day was finally there, and I realized I was going to run 15 kilometers with only a handful of other runners (15 to be precise). I have never felt like an elite marathoner, but that day, I felt special because I was one of select few people who decided to get out of their comfy blankets on a cold wintry morning and show up in the middle of the mountains to run over stones and pebbles.
This was one of my scariest runs so far. I had wild langoors and mountain dogs for company. I remember stopping on my tracks a zillion times as I ran into monkeys who looked liked they wanted to snatch my cellphone. There was also the danger of getting run over by a truck on the national highway.
I met some stray cows too after I crossed a bridge after the 9k mark. But all of this was nothing compared to having a herd of wild mountain goats block my path on a narrow trail. I was praying I’d meet their shepherd somewhere, but I was plain unlucky. I wanted the Earth to open up and swallow me because there was the vast expanse of mountain behind me, a group of crazy goats in front of me, the vertical wall of rock to my right, and the endless river (which I’d get to only if I rolled to my death down the steep escarpment) below.
I was saved by another runner who tore a branch, herded the goats away, grabbed my hand and led me across the trail. I cannot thank that man enough! He was my angel that morning. I had some much needed potatoes and eggs with electrolyte after my adventure, and even managed a grainy picture at the finish line with Rahul Verghese – the organizer of this scenic run. He happens to be a veteran runner himself.
The bounty of nature provides a nice space for us humans to sit and ponder over why the world was created and who we really are. I ended my trip by gazing into infinity and thanking God for revealing the beauty of His creations to me in the lap of my favourite mountains.
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Let me know if you too are into runcationing. Have you been to Rishikesh? Has your experience been any different? I’m all ears! 🙂
What a run! It’s actually scary running with langurs around. Generally harmless, I guess it’s our conditioning browning up.
It was one memorable experience! 🙂 Try it sometime!
wonderful post dear thanks
It’s a pleasure to write for readers like you, Sumit! 🙂
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wow!wonderful place.keep go on.
Rishikesh was certainly wonderful! 🙂 Have you been there?
Just went through your Runcationing in Rishikesh blog as it made me recollect my memories of river rafting in the Ganges at Rishikesh which was awesome and I still remember the breathtaking view of the mountains .😀 Really enjoyed reading the blog.Keep writing 😀👌
Nice to know you enjoyed my article! 🙂 It always feels good to be reminded of happy memories.
Great blog…. Thank You…………………This blog is genuinely well written and framed. good luck with more articles. you deserve the success.
Thank you so much!
You fed yourself quite well to gear-up for the run 😊
Jokes apart, I am happy to have read this. There is nothing comparable to the excitement of running, and you folks did it in the lap of nature!
*I didn’t worry much about monkeys and all, they were sort of audience to cheer-up 😍
Thanks, Alok! 🙂 Running on this trail was undoubtedly the best experience I had on that trip! And all of that food sure fueled me for the run! 😉
I have been in Haridwar & Rishikesh last month to complete some rituals with my dad. It wasn’t a trip but the plan was sudden so we had very limited time to explore rishikesh. Due to winter there were very few tourists. I chatted wit few tourists and they are enjoying their trip. Some tourists were on trip since last 3 months. Rishikesh is truly beautiful place and i love to visit it again in future.
Rishikesh is quite interesting if you go off the beaten path!
Yes, I am planning my next trip to Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Nainital and Jim Corbett part after Diwali ! 🙂
Awesome! 🙂 Have fun!
Nice post! thanks for sharing.
Thank you! 🙂
Great post. We’re in Mumbai right now and are planning a trip to Rishikesh. This gives us a few ideas of what to see and do.
Awesome! 🙂 Let me know how your trip goes!
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Hi Nikita! 🙂 I live in India. Nice to know you!
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Thank you so much, Raj! 🙂
welcome oindrila de
Rishikesh is the best place to visit, I was there before 2 years and remind my memories there
Nice to know that, Anil!
It’s such a very good article about Hrishikesh as I am planning to visit the city and want to enjoy the rafting and so much adventurous things, thanks for sharing the wonderful experience
Thank you! Have a nice trip!
Rishikesh is a part of uttrakhand. I go to rishikesh many times its my fev place. Thank you
It is easy for Rishikesh to become a traveler’s favourite! 🙂
This was such an inspiration for me as I have always wanted to visit Rishikesh. This article has rekindled some of that desire. Thanks a lot.
Do not delay that trip any longer, Lakshmi! 🙂 You’ll love Rishikesh!
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Would love this for our family!
We’ve always wanted to go and now they are old enough to enjoy it.
You must certainly plan a trip then, Danica!
I spent a week in Rishikesh in 2017. It was my first trip in India, I was cycling and it took 5 months. Now, I am planning to visit this beautiful country again. My plan is to get yoga licence in Rishikesh and course takes 2 months. This time I will join a rafting for sure after I read this line “My existence and dreams and opinions simply don’t matter when I look up at the sky and see how big the real world really is.” Thanks 🙂
Great to hear that, Melke! 🙂 Enjoy your time in Rishikesh!
Thanks for the amazing post….. keep sharing