On one of the weekends, our entire group went to the waterfalls located 7 km from Rishikesh. However, we decided to separate from the group and explore on our own. The route to the waterfalls took us along the Ganges and through the foothills of the Himalayas—truly picturesque and incredibly diverse. Finding the waterfalls proved to be quite challenging, and after asking for directions several times and taking a mountain path, we still managed to miss the right spot and ended up in a charming mountain village.
It felt like we had entered an unreal fantasy settlement where there were no tourists, and everything was so colorful and breathtaking. The village was a small gem, with only a dozen houses, well-maintained gardens, and flower beds adorned with fragrant flowers, exotic plants, and friendly locals who didn’t understand a word of English. The village nestled in a small valley between the mountains, creating a serene atmosphere.
One of the villagers kindly invited us into their home, where they treated us to masala and shared photographs taken with other tourists who, like us, had accidentally stumbled upon their village. Surprisingly, most of the visitors had sent their pictures to this Indian family by mail as a way of cherishing the warm and unexpected encounter. It was a heartwarming experience that added a special touch to our day in the mountains.
Then, we finally found the waterfall, and as is often the case when traveling, the journey to the waterfall itself turned out to be much more picturesque, interesting, and informative than the waterfall itself.
On one of the coldest days, as luck would have it, we decided to visit Haridwar and the Chandi Devi temple, which is located on a mountain. Nearby, there is a Hanuman temple. Traditionally, before entering any temple in India, you are required to take off your shoes. With an air temperature of +5°C and a concrete floor on the temple grounds, the idea of visiting the sacred place became a bit doubtful.
Haridwar is one of the seven sacred cities of India, located 24 km downstream from Rishikesh along the Ganges. It is the first flat city on the path of the Ganges after it exits the Himalayas. In Hindi, Haridwar means “the gate to God.” The city has long been a dwelling place for sages and served as a center for the development of art, science, and culture. The celebration of Kumbh Mela is one of the main attractions for tourists.
The reverence with which the Indians regard the sacred Ganges is unparalleled. Indians drink water from it, pray to it, bathe in it, use the water for cooking, washing clothes, and even for burial rituals. They also use it as a transport artery, offer donations, and unfortunately, some also dispose of industrial and municipal waste into it. Bathing in the sacred waters of the river is believed to cleanse Hindus of sins and grant liberation from the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth.