Exploring the Ganga and Yamuna rivers and the surrounding areas in Uttarakhand, India takes time. But, if you want to experience their beauty and do not have enough time, what should you do? Short trips are possible… but let me warn you, you will want to go back for more. Here is what we were able to accomplish in approximately 6 days (but will definitely go back again!) at the end of November.
Day 1: Our short trip started in Dehradun. We landed around 1pm and headed straight to our hotel so that we could grab some lunch. After a short rest, we headed out to explore Dehradun in the evening. Our first stop was the Forest Research Institute where we spent around two hours exploring the campus and the museum. It was already getting dark by the time we were done (in late November, the sun sets pretty early). Next, we headed to the Tapkeshwar temple. You do have to climb down steps (may be around 75), but the temple itself is very nice. If you climb down a few more steps, you can see a fast stream flow by. After the visit, we went back to the hotel and called it a night.
Day 2: After a heavy breakfast, we headed to the Mindrolling Monastery and spent time exploring the campus. Next, we headed to Mussoorie via Kalsi and Yamuna Bridge. This is significant because, there is a much shorter way, but, you will miss visiting both Kalsi and Yamuna Bridge. At Kalsi, we were able to check out one of King Ashoka’s rock edicts, located close to the Yamuna river (Tons river to be exact). From Kalsi, we headed to Mussoorie. Along the way, we stopped at Yamuna Bridge. This is a very cool place to stop where you can go down to the bank of the river and play in the water (use caution of course & pay attention to the water temperature!). After the crossing, we spent some time by Kempty falls. Once you leave Kempty falls, magic happens. There is a little lookout point where there is a small tea stall. Stop, turn your head towards the left…. The view of the Himalayas will leave you speechless! Reached Mussoorie by nightfall and spent the night at a hotel close to the library.
Day 3: Explored Mussoorie in the morning and then headed towards Rishikesh (this time around, we went by the short route). We reached Rishikesh – Ram Jhula area around noon. The Ganga in Rishikesh was mesmerising! We crossed the river on a boat and explored the various ashrams on the other side. We managed to do some crystal shopping as well. Once we got back, we had lunch and checked into our hotel. While I normally do not call out hotels, this one is an exception. We stayed at a place called “Yog Niketan”. The location was unbeatable. The rooms were very nice (with basic amenities) and the views spectacular! We were within walking distance to Ram Jhula, which made it very easy to explore the area. In the evening, we could have walked across the Ram Jhula for the aarti, but we chose to go to Triveni Ghat instead. The evening aarti there was magical – choreographed and spectacular!
Day 4: Thoroughly enjoyed walking by the river early in the morning. We also managed to spend some time meditating by the river while the kids slept. After breakfast, we headed towards Laxman Jhula and explored the temples in that area. After we were done, we headed towards Haridwar. On the way, we stopped over for lunch close to the National park. We did not have enough time to venture into the park. For our stay in Haridwar, we picked a haveli close to Har ki Pauri. In the evening, we went to Har ki Pauri and enjoyed the evening aarti, which was more organic in nature compared to the one in Rishikesh. After the aarti, we headed back to the haveli. We had a chance to do some shopping in the bazaar along the way. Back at the haveli, we enjoyed a nice dinner and called it a night.
Day 5: Early in the morning, a few of us headed back to Har ki Pauri to enjoy the morning aarti which was very subdued and peaceful. Visiting Har ki Pauri in the morning also gave us an opportunity to witness the many tourists who head to the ghats straight from the railway and bus stations. After breakfast, we spent the day exploring Haridwar – visiting many temples including: Mansa Devi and Chandi Devi temples, Daksh mandir, Pavan Dham and Harihar Ashram.
Day 6: Spent the morning enjoying yoga and other activities in the haveli and then, after breakfast, headed home.
Notes: We went at the end of November. The tourist rush was minimal but so was the availability of outdoor activities like rafting. The water was on the cooler side but it wasn’t too bad. The fewer tourists helped us enjoy Rishikesh and Haridwar… I think too many people would have overwhelmed us 🙂