Rishikesh has always been THE place for spiritual seekers and yoga enthusiasts, with masses of ashrams and all kinds of meditation classes. But today, this religious town on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to a lot more than just limb-twisting and praying.
Rishikesh has slowly emerged as a hub for white-water rafting, backpacking and a revered gateway to treks in the mighty Himalayas.
Gangtok should not be dismissed as just another hill station. For one, it is more relaxed than most hill stations its size and also, spotlessly clean. No overflowing garbage cans and no spitting on roads, rules that locals swear by. Monasteries stand in perfect harmony with the cafe culture of Gangtok and the cheerful vibe eventually rubs off on you. Gangtok is blessed with a handful of sights and doubles up as a base to many other excursions, but you should probably extend your stay here to soak in the charm of this easy and happy blend of tradition and modernity.
We got off at the Haldwani bus stand at 3.30 in the morning to be welcomed by a harsh and cold wind and a multitude of taxi drivers. After some negotiating and waiting of about 30 minutes for other passengers, we hopped inside a cramped Alto to begin our 3-hour drive to Ranikhet. A network of tar roads that snakes through the mountains and soaring pine trees calmed our weary souls.
Under a million stars in the pitch-black sky, I let the chilly breeze play with my hair. Surrounding me were the coniferous foliage and the sound of the noisy torrents.
Himachal is like God’s gift for those who seek to escape the stress of mundane lives and nestled in these mountains is the small and charming village of Kasol.Stunning scenery and crystal-clear mountain streams more than make up for the sweaty and treacherous journey to this place. Kasol is an easy base for numerous treks and also a summertime venue for trance parties.