Nature, Spirituality & Emancipation: Fascinating Lakshman Jhula

There, in a meadow, by the river’s side,

A flock of nymphs I chanced to espy,

All lovely daughters of the flood thereby,

With goodly greenish locks, all loose untied

̴ Edmund Spenser

Mother Ganga and the wilderness

There were no meadows by the side of the majestic Ganges. There was divinity and a heavenly elegance in her motion – the way she hurried down dancing with a soft murmur through the rapids on her journey into the mighty plains of India. There were no nymphs around. Perhaps they were imperceptible – chanting blessings and hovering over the strong breeze that fluttered through the valley. The riverbanks were lined by beautiful greenish mountains. The blue sky above was cloudless and words were inadequate to fathom the aura it had over us. The fascinating Lakshman Jhula stood like a majestic monument expanding its arms on both the banks of the river.

Mother Ganges, the green mountains, the clear blue sky and Lakshman Jhula

You must all be wondering what story we might be sharing with you all today. Yes you are absolutely right! It’s Lakshman Jhula indeed. This Diwali we had an amazing 3 day trip to Rishikesh. And the trip to Devaprayag was a surprise package – the story of which you must have already read in our last article. 

View of Lakshman Jhula from Hotel Ishan – the Riverside Retreat

The 450 feet wide iron suspension bridge (made in 1929 and engineered by P.H.Tillard) joining the Tehri and Pauri Garhwal districts of Uttarakhand stood right in front of us. I was leaning on the grill railing of the first floor gallery of Hotel Ishan facing the widescreen view of the graceful Ganges. The view of Lakshman Jhula was special. It was big and I could see the very details of it from the hotel gallery.

The view of Lakshman Jhula was special

The bridge proudly towered the grandeur of the bygone era. It is believed that Prince Lakshman of Ayodhya had once built the bridge made of jute rope and twigs for his elder brother Lord Ram, the incarnate of Lord Vishnu. The holy bridge had been destroyed by the wrath of nature and rebuilt by mankind as a tribute and respect to Prince Lakshman. It was 3 pm and we were about to unpack in our Hotel room. Earlier in the day we had moved out from our home at Delhi to Haridwar taking the 6.45 am Shatabdi Express and travelling all the way to Lakshman Jhula by cab. We were extremely glad that we were here – a place that had tranquility, lots of fresh air, green mountains and most importantly the Holy Ganges right in front of us.

The Evening          

The evening dropped its curtain on the landscape around Lakshman Jhula much quicker than we thought it would be. It was going to be half past four when we were actually at the centre of the bridge taking shots of the breathtaking views circling us.

On our way to the Trayambakeshwar Temple

A group of rafters were rowing way down the river. Their fatigue was clearly visible. The tunes of Hariharan’s melodious Hanuman Chalisa played from the other side of the river made the aura mesmerizing. We were absolutely absorbed in the music. This was when the winds from the North had suddenly picked up and there was a sudden chill around us.

Just enjoyed the spectacular view around

The thirteen storied pyramidal Trayambakeshwar Temple looked like a Heavenly Abode with the advent of golden rays of the fading sunlight.

Trayambakeshwar Temple, Rishikesh

Trayambakeshwar Temple

The Trayambakeshwar Temple is one of the oldest temples of Rishikesh and is also known as the Terah Manzil Mandir. Trayambakeshwar meaning the abode of “The Three Eyed” is one of the oldest temples of Lord Shiva was probably established by Shri Adi Shankaracharya. Devotees can worship Lord Shiva and almost all deities at each of the thirteen floors of the temple. The temple is believed to have preserved a rare collection of ancient Vedic and religious scripts. We were absolutely mesmerized by the divine idols of the much worshipped Gods and offered our prayers to Lord Shiva.

Idols of Mother Ganga, Yamuna & Saraswati

The temple complex also houses several memento shops selling idols of Gods with many of them having excellent collections of rudraksh malas, Himalayan gem stones, spiritual rings and Pooja items.

The Ganges unfolded into an amazing beauty with the last rays of the daylight fading in the West.

While climbing each of the thirteen floors the view of the Ganges unfolded into an amazing beauty with the last rays of the daylight fading in the West. Time had probably frozen and we were absolutely encapsulated by the sheer magnitude of the incomparable beauty around us.

What an evening; simply amazing

The spell was cut short by loud chants of prayers coming from the river bank below the temple. We were absolutely fortunate to witness the Ganga Aarti. 

We were about to climb downstairs for the Ganga Aarti

The Ganga Aarti

The aura was out of the world. Our bare feet were cuddled by the soft white sands on the bank of the river. There was a sudden calmness in the green waters of the Ganges. The winds from the Himalayas slowed down mysteriously. The nature too was perhaps waiting for this pious moment when the priests from Trayambakeshwar Temple lightened the large brass lamps. The prayers for the Holy Mother were chanted loud with a mesmerizing background music being played by an orchestra seated on a cemented plinth.

Ganga Aarti at the Trayambakeshwar Temple

The flames of the lamps were picking up and their reflections were now dazzling on the Holy waters of the Ganges flowing down towards Rishikesh. The aura was Godly. The mountains on the other side seemed to be bowing down to offer their prayers with their long shadows on the river bed.

The flames of the lamps were picking up

The hymns of the chants were echoing everywhere in the valley. In our country the Ganges had been our true Mother, protector, nurturer of the Indian civilization. Without her blessings, without the blessings of Lord Shiva from where Mother Ganges is believed to have originated our emancipation would have been incomplete. The bloom of the rich culture of this great Nation, our deeds and our learnings owe to Mother Ganga.

 It was time for all of us to seek the blessings of the Holy Mother

Ganga Aarti at Lakshman Jhula

Lakshman Jhula with the lights on 

I am doubtful, how many of you have witnessed the sheer beauty of the Lakshman Jhula with the lights on. We were back to our Hotel for keeping the Prasad and Pooja items. The view of Lakshman Jhula with the lights being slowly put on was something we hardly expected. It was an amazing aura.

A delightful moment indeed

I can vow that the view that was right in front of us could easily surpass the grandeur of any light and sound show of a reputed monument.

Lakshman Jhula – The lights were slowly being put on

The view of Lakshman Jhula was an absolute beauty

Café Time

Lakshman Jhula had always been thronged by foreign tourists during the Pre Covid era. Foreigners frequently travelled from other parts of the world to emancipate their tired souls with spirituality, yoga and experience the peace and richness of our religion, heritage and culture. With the influx of overseas tourists several resorts, mediation & yoga camps and a number of cafeteria had mushroomed in and around Tapovan and Lakshman Jhula.

Snacks time at Honey Hut Nature Cafe

While checking into our hotel, the Honey Hut Nature Café had attracted out attention. With hardly anything on our cards we decided to have a cup of coffee and snacks. We ordered apple pie and blueberry cheese cakes along with black coffee. The taste of the snacks was really good. The café reminded me of similar ones we had seen on our trip to Kasol.

Morning Trek to Kailash Beach

Last night while having dinner at our hotel restaurant, we had the opportunity to interact with one of the staff members from whom we came to know about the Kailash Beach located very near to our hotel.

Kailash Beach near Lakshman Jhula

As soon as the haze of the early morning bloomed into full daylight, we were on our 1 km trek to the Kailash Beach. We crossed the German Bakery near the Lakshman Jhula Gate and took the paved road leading towards the Saraswati Ghat at our right. Moving further ahead we had to cross the Machaan Café to enter a wild track leading us closer to the banks of the Ganges. Although the banks of the river were mostly rocky during our trek but when we crossed a short turn, suddenly a vast sandy basin bloomed right in front of us – we had reached the Kailash Beach.

The River was taking a sharp bend from the North-East direction

The river was taking a sharp bend from the North-East direction. The murmur of the gushing river over the rapids and chirping of the wild birds made the aura serene and unforgettable. Our feet were inundated into the soft white sand. The air was pure. It’s very easy to find peace in a beautiful place like this.

Was I lost? May be I was indeed

You sit or roll over the sand – meditate or just stare at the eternal flow of the Holy Ganges

You sit or roll over the sand – meditate or just stare at the eternal flow of the Holy Ganges – a sense of joy, tranquility and fulfilment would overwhelm your senses. Perhaps this was the reason why travelers from far away countries loved to visit Rishikesh. The pervasive spirituality and the beauty of Mother Nature takes you to a different world. You emancipate from within and gain new vigor for a better living.

Outing to Devaprayag

The trip to Devaprayag was not on cards while we had planned our Lakshman Jhula vacation. It was sudden and the madness paid off with rich dividends as it was one of the most spiritually enlightening tours we had in recent times. I believe that by now you must have already read the entire story of our Devaprayag tour.

The Devaprayag Trip

We had skipped our lunch and decided to have it somewhere back at Lakshman Jhula. Instead of getting down at our hotel we asked our cab to drop us at Ram Jhula. Having food at the famous Chotiwala restaurant was definitely one of the priorities in our travel planner.

Ram Jhula, Rishikesh

Crossing the Ram Jhula

It was good to get down well ahead of the auto stand at Ram Jhula. There was a short cut staircase that led us straight to the entrance of the Ram Jhula which seemed to be busier and more crowded as compared to Lakshman Jhula. Ram Jhula looks very similar to Lakshman Jhula. The 750 feet wide iron suspension bridge built in the year 1986 connects Shivananda Nagar (Muni-ki-Reti bank of the Ganges) and Swargashram on the other side of the river. The famous Beatles Ashram, Yog Niketan and Geeta Bhawan are located very near to the Ram Jhula.

Had a long cherished Selfie at the Ram Jhula

I felt that this bridge was much stable and stronger than Lakshman Jhula and perhaps this was also the reason why the bridge was open for commuters plying on two wheelers. The south facing view of the Ganges was amazing. The river took a wider, calm and tortuous flow towards Haridwar.

Had lunch at the Chotiwala Restaurant

Lunch at Chotiwala

Rishikesh tour is perhaps incomplete without having a full course meal at the Chotiwala restaurant. This famous traditional Indian restaurant founded by Late Shri Harswaroop Agarwal is now a leading foodie chain in the state of Uttarakhand. At present the restaurant is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. While entering we were greeted by the iconic chotiwala seated on a tall stool.

We were greeted by the iconic chotiwala seated on a tall stool.

The restaurant presents mouth-watering traditional pure vegetarian traditional Indian dishes attracting families and tourists all over the world.

Presenting the iconic Chotiwala Special Thali

The Chotiwala Special Thali (Rs 299) featuring Paneer butter masala, dal makhani, chana masala, mixed vegetable, matar pulao, salads, pickle, papad, Laccha Parantha, curd and Gulab Jamoon is a delight for any foodie. It was really tough for us to complete so many dishes at a go. When I was a child my parents had also dined here and the taste & quality of the food being served here remained the same.

The Ganga Ghat               

The Ganga Ghat near Chotiwala is an amazing place. The Ram Jhula unfolded right in front of us in a spectacular view. We enjoyed the soothing late afternoon breeze to shed off the fatigue of our road-trip to Devaprayag.

The Ganga Ghat near Chotiwala Restaurant

To our left was the Ferry Ghat which took passengers and tourists to the opposite banks of the river below the highway. Nowadays due to the pandemic ferry service has been restricted for tourists. The Ganges in this part of Rishikesh had a calm and peaceful flow as compared to what we had seen at Lakshman Jhula. This might be due to the absence of any rapids in this part of the river course.

Shades of the evening engrossing the banks of the Ganges

A lovely evening near Ram Jhula

The shades of the evening soon engrossed the banks of the Ganges. Peace and tranquility was slowly overshadowing the cacophony of human movement. The Ram Jhula was looking gorgeous. Mother Ganges was glowing with the tint of the fading twilight. There was a peaceful grace in her flow. This was exactly the moment, when a mesmerizing tune and the Holy chants filled the air. The priests on the other banks of the Ganges were getting ready for the Ganga Aarti.


How many days to stay: Atleast three days with one day trip to either Devaprayag or the Neelkanth Temple

How to Reach Lakshman Jhula

RailwayTravel to Haridwar or Rishikesh by train from almost major cities of India. From Delhi it is advised to travel by the 6.45 am Shatabdi Express
AirwayTravel to Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun by flight and take a cab to Rishikesh
RoadwaysRishikesh, Haridwar and Dehradun are connected with almost all North Indian cities by well-maintained Highways

Where to Stay at Lakshman Jhula

Family StayHotel Ishan, Hotel Bliss Ganga (near to the Lakshman Jhula); there are several good Hotels at Tapovan in and around the Rishikesh-Badrinath Highway
Single StayBlue Jay Hostel, Gostops, Moustache Hostel

Places to Eat

Chotiwala, Little Buddha café, Monkeyhouse Café, Rajasthani Bhojanalaya

Shopping

Tourists should be careful while choosing shopping outlets in and around Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula. Many unfair retailers literally fool tourists with poor quality products.

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