Resting up by the Ganges, overlooking the mighty Himalayas amidst nail-biting cold: Rishikesh and Tilwara in December 2022

In the last week of December 2022, when it had started to get colder in Delhi NCR, I took time to reflect on the year that was about to get over – to think of my happy moments, celebrations, regular days that I absolutely love, disappointments, arguments, my friendships ❤️❤️, friends who refuse to let go of me & call me at 3 am 😝😝 (I am so lucky to have you), my travels, my weekly blogpost on Life on Weekends, people who challenged me, supported me, criticised me and appreciated me. And say thanks to my strong and loving family, who no matter what, will stand behind me and be the source of all my confidence and self-belief.

That said, introspection is serious business that sometimes requires long hours of sitting at one place, thinking and writing copious notes. How could I have done it at my home? So, we decided to take a trip to the mountains to spend the year-end at ease 😉 😉

My first thought was: how about Northeast? But then, you need the luxury of time & immaculate planning to be able to make those trips. Plus when in Northeast, who would spend time indoors? That would be a field trip exploring the great Northeast outdoors! So, after a quick elimination round, we settled on to the nearby state that shares its existence with Himalayas. And thus, Uttarakhand. 🙂

Day1: Driving from Noida to Rishikesh

We usually leave early if we have to spend hours on road to avoid driving after sunset. That day, it was really cold and the comfort of a quilt felt apex. It took a while, but I stepped out of the comfort zone ;), packed my quilt and started for the mountains.

Have a good breakfast at Cheetal Grand

On the route to Rishikesh, you can take a halt at Cheetal Grand, and have a delicious breakfast/ brunch. Their paneer sandwiches, assorted pakoras and chai are really good. The paranthas are average and can’t be compared to those of Murthal’s. Have a good meal, fuel up and start towards Rishikesh.

Drive through Rajaji National Park

This is the second treat on your way to Rishikesh: driving through Rajaji National Park. If you can time yourself well, you can even go for an afternoon Tiger safari. Who knows what you might be able to spot.

Side note: Rajaji Park’s Tiger Safaris are mostly …well…what’s the word?! Those are mostly dull. 😀 You can’t expect much, unless you can enjoy the forest and its cool wind.

Stay in Rishikesh: choose wisely 🙂

The best part about a stay in Rishikesh is its proximity with rivers. Depending upon where you choose to stay, you can get an unadulterated, uninterrupted view of the Ganges or its tributaries.

We chose a resort slightly away from Rishikesh, closer to Neelkanth. That area is less crowded and quieter. A tributary of the river Ganga flew at the back of the hotel. You could spend your mornings and evenings talking to the river (if you are into that sort of a thing). Or you can simply take a walk by the river while enjoying the sound of the flowing water. Or if you belong to the club of book-nerds, carry a book with you. Sit on some boulder/ rock and read your book while the river continues to flow in front of you.

I spent two days doing this.

Day 3: Head over to Tilwara

The internet was buzzing with reels from the movie Qala’s music. I of course jumped on the bandwagon too and made some of my own. Because the trip was totally reel-friendly. The route to Tilwara was gorgeous- with mountain ranges, rivers next to the road, and lovely localites.

Devprayag Sangam

On the way to Tilwara, you will pass through the holy, the gorgeous and the picturesque Devprayag Sangam where Bhaigrathi and Alaknanda meet to form the holy Ganges. It’s really beautiful :). Stop over for a while, and enjoy the view.

Stay at Tilwara by the river Mandakini

I love the sound the word, ‘Mandakini’ makes. I can’t explain why. But I do. ❤️❤️

So when we reached our resort in Tilwara and I noticed that the hotel had its own space to enjoy the river Mandakini, my happiness touched the sky. I ran, crossing and jumping over the boulders and rocks and settled nearby the river. Yes, it was cold. And windy! But nothing mattered at that time. I wanted to talk to the river. Crazy, right? Learnt this new skill on the trip only. I did talk to the river, sat in silence and let my mind go berserk with all kinds of thoughts. It just doesn’t listen sometimes (my mind). But we are learning to co-exist peacefully. By the end of 2023, I am positive the me and my mind will develop a schedule (of sorts) when it would be allowed to go crazy, and not the whole day. 😉

This was an even better stay than Neelkanth’s. In the evening, it got super cold and the hotel served only limited meals (because of the fact that it was overcrowded). And yet, I felt at ease. The rooms were located at a distance and we couldn’t hear any noise. The attached balcony often took my mind away from the occasional chitter chatter and urged me to notice, “How pretty the mountains can be. And how relentlessly peaceful a flowing river is.”

Travel Tips:

1. It’s a great circuit to add in your travel itinerary for 3-4 days. You could either go by road or by train. But then, you would have to arrange for public transport if you travel by train.

2. Rishikesh and the nearby area have been popular for its achievements in Yogic practices for years. It you are looking for a spiritual retreat, this is the place to be.

3. It’s a great destination for a solo trip too. The hotels and localites are used to seeing people travel to Rishikesh from all over. And they don’t judge.

4. While Rishikesh is beautiful, my recommendation is to stay either at Neelkanth and/ or Tilwara for an offbeat yet quieter stay. You will get good resorts here too fitting all kinds of budgets

See you next week. Till then, keep travelling and keep exploring!

Keep travelling; I am watching you 🙂 😉

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