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Day 30 of The Candid Odyssey

It's early morning and now we are in Dehradun, alighting from the bus, just to board another bus to Rishikesh. So, yes, our actual destination for today is Rishikesh. You thought it was Deharadun, didn't you? :) Rishikesh is a Hindu pilgrimage city situated on the banks of the prominent Ganges River. A place of sages and yoga. It feels really exciting to be there, but our sit and sleep approach we took on the bus is making us very tired. Tried checking in to today's stay, Triple1 Hostel, but no beds are vacant till noon. To repeat, no beds are vacant, don't even think about rooms! That's why we are going to take a stroll beside the Ganges. Luckily, we could find some benches near the Ganga beach. And there we are, sleeping on the public benches, along with a few homeless men. Let's enjoy it because we don't get to sleep beside a river every day! Also, that's when we start to notice the beauty of the Ganges. It's flowing faster and calmer at the time and is backgrounded by lush green trees. To add to that, people are bathing and practicing yoga on the beach. So scenic and relaxing overall. And that leads us to a deep nap :)

I love afternoon naps. A 15-minute afternoon nap every day can do wonders. You may want to give it a try if it's new to you. Anyway, we are recharged now. After unpacking ourselves at the stay, now it's time to explore. Ganges is beautiful, but the view from the Ram Jhula, the suspension bridge, reveals the mightiness of the river. It's so wide and full of water. And it flows with pride. We can feel that. No wonder why it holds so much significance in geology, history, culture, and the livelihood of millions. What's more interesting is the Ghats. There are tens and probably hundreds of Ghats besides the Ganges. Oh, in case you don't know, Ghats are the series of steps that lead down to the river. They are also given names for easier identification. Ghats are always lively with pilgrims, rituals, and vendors. Sitting on a Ghat and doing nothing will be one of the most satisfying things to do :)

One of our primary goals in Rishikesh is to get inside an Ashram. To see what happens inside, how it works, and possibly find some spiritual inspirations. So, we keep walking along the Ghats searching for the ashrams. Some are closed, some look scary, and some are just fake. But finally, we found the perfect match we were looking for - Parmarth Niketan. A peaceful ashram offering yoga and meditation, and most importantly involved in a variety of humanitarian activities. Also, our timing is perfect. It's the Ganga Aarti time. On the Ghat near the ashram, during the sunset, the priests and residents perform the sacred Aarti ritual. And to witness that, the Ghat is now crowded with hundreds of devotees. The chanting of mantras, offering of flowers to the river, waving of the lit traditional oil lamps, the glow of the fire lamps, and the devotional hymns and songs - all make up the Aarti what it is. Spiritual, harmonious, and fascinating. Pure goosebumps! And right after the Aarti, we have got a Satsang to attend. It's a spiritual Q&A session with Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, a major spiritual leader in the Ashram. She takes in a couple of questions and shares her thoughts on the same. Interestingly, the session is in English and the majority of the attendees are foreigners! By the way, we have got so many questions which need answers, right? At the same time, we can't be present here for this Satsang every day. So, we need a solution. That's why I obtained the contact email from an organizer. I send him a few queries every day, and he passes them on to superiors, Sadhviji answers those during the Satsang, and I watch the livestream of the same every day. They said the questions are great and keep them coming :) Innovative, huh? But moreover, insightful! It's because this practice continued for many days and her ideas have enlightened me on different aspects. It's always some combinations and derivations of other's thoughts that form our own thoughts, isn't it?

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