“Excuses will always be there for you,
But OPPORTUNITIES won’t.”
My thoughts exactly when I think about whether to travel or not to travel. This time the excuse I found to make good of an opportunity was a GIRLS TRIP. After all the solo trips that I had done, it was time to spend some time with my gals who due to all my work and personal commitment issues were not getting enough of ‘ME TIME’ ;).
So within a matter of days, me and three friends of mine decided on the location and the dates best suited for the travel. There were some discussions and some rescheduling to ensure the dates are available for all and then finally the decision was made. We would spend our extended weekend in the HOLY LAND- Rishikesh and would travel in the first week of May. After all, we had each had enough of the metro city life, hills and also to an extend done holidays in the past to the beach cities. This trip was going to be
different. It was going to be about SOUL SEARCHING. With Rishikesh being a strict NO NON VEG, NO ALCOHOL within the city limits kind of place, what else would be a better purpose.
Besides the search for peace, there was another lucrative reason we decided to go to this city. That reason was to tickle the ‘Adventure bones’ in our body. My uncle happened to be the owner of this fantastic adventure company called Jumpin Heights
which had its base in Rishikesh. This company offers various gutsy rides for the gutsy people and we were all keen to get the army-kid blood flowing. So thus Rishikesh it was.
The plan was to fly out on Fri morning from Delhi to Dehradun from where we would then take a one hour cab ride to Rishikesh. If you have days in hand, then you can also drive down from Delhi to Rishikesh and the whole journey would take you appx 6 hrs(241 km). Else there is always the train ride which would take around 9 hours. Considering we just had one long weekend, we wanted to save time and thus flight it was going to be.
Taking the 11 am flight we found ourselves landing in Dehradun just 45 minutes later. Love such short flights. Sit, take off and Land.
Once in Doon, there are many cabs outside the airport which can be hired for less than INR 1000 for a ride up to Rishikesh. You can negotiate and get the cost up to INR 800 but we were in a hurry to reach and hence settled for 1000 bucks.
The drive was smooth and the roads in a very good condition. Dehradun airport is actually in the middle of Doon and Rishikesh and hence the flight is convenient for any of the locations that you would want to travel to. Within an hour we were entering Rishikesh, and we decided to first go straight to the Jumpin Heights office so as to book our slot for tomorrow morning and to get all necessary instructions so as to be prepared when we land up here tomorrow.
Jumpin Heights has their marketing office very close to the Lakshman Jhoola and the complete address is Tapovan, Badrinath Road, Near Lakshman Jhoola Police Station, Rishikesh.
I met the Executive Director who was also a Retd. Army Officer just like my uncle(the Managing Director- Rahul Nigam) and he was kind enough to give us a brief for what to expect tomorrow. He also suggested to reach the zone by 9 am which is when the Jump Zone office will open. This way we could be the first few jumpers and end up avoiding the crowd which is usually expected over the weekends.
In fact the bunjy has become so famous that last weekend there was a queue of more than 100 people waiting to get their turn to jump. We definitely did not want to end up in a situation where we would have to wait for hours and hours and thus decided to be at the site by dot 8.45 am.
This done, we decided to now head to our guestroom which we had booked via Airbnb
. The place was called Ganga Vatika
and was around 2 km away from the main city area. However we were able to easily find a rickshaw(three wheeler ride
) which at a meagre cost of 70 rupees agreed to drop us till our resort. I call it a resort because that is exactly what it turned out to be. We were pleasantly surprised to see the lush greenery in the gardens, the row houses, the blooming flowers and the overall ambience of GANGA VATIKA.
There were more than 50 row houses and we got about looking for the address where we were supposed to go. The apartment that we were renting was a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 bathrooms, a dining room, a kitchen and 2 balconies. Renting via Airbnb the same had cost us appx INR 6500 per night. The apartment was managed by two Spanish ladies, who had been staying in this city for more than 2 years and were Lord Krishna’s disciples.
So when we met them and were exchanging pleasantries they would say Hare Om /Hare Krishna very frequently. We soon learnt to reply the chant back every time they said it, as a courtesy :). This trip was getting more spiritual by the minute.
We were soon showed to our apartment and we absolutely loved it. Each room had an AC, the linen was clean, the bathrooms were clean and overall it was a very happy place. Since it was already almost 2.30 PM, we decided to order lunch(obviously Pure Veg) from the resort itself and thus ordered 1 Spanish and 1 Italian meal. The cost of one lunch was INR 300 which was quite reasonable(however the food was average). One also had an option of going for the in house spa and make good of the time spent indoors as it was too hot in the afternoon to venture out anywhere.
After a quick shower, we settled on the dining table to have our lunch and to plan out what we would do in the evening. We decided to get an hours nap and then around 5.30 PM would step out to explore the city. By this time hopefully the heat would have subsided and the walk would thus be enjoyable instead of being painful.
Being a holy city, you will see a lot of religious things all around.There are numerous temples in Rishikesh, many sadhus(priests) and signboards for many yoga classes all around the city. The evening Aarti(prayers) which happen at the sunset time are world famous. We decided to get a glimpse
of the Aarti for this reason and hence found ourselves walking towards the shore of the Ganga to reach well in time.
Unfortunately we got lost finding our way and were a little late, and thus we could only manage to see the main Aarti from across the shore of the river. We were no ways going to be able to cross over and still reach in time before the prayer time ends and thus we decided to catch it from the other side, the next day.
After seeing whatever we could from the shore, we decided to go to Lakshman Jhoola area, which was the main town and also happened to have some famous food joints. After the not-so-good meal, we were all keen to have some evening snacks with a hot cup of coffee. We hailed a tuk-tuk(similar to an
auto) and paid 10 bucks each to be dropped at the beginning of the market area. From there we walked through the narrow lanes where the shops were lined and stopped quite often to glance at things which caught our eye. After walking down slope for around 1.5 km, we reached the Lakshman Jhoola and at the beginning of the same, we spotted the café that we were looking out for- Devraj Coffee Corner. A friend had suggested this place when she had seen the check-in update on FB. Taking her suggestion, we walked into the coffee house which had a direct view of the ganga river and the Lakshman Jhoola.
Though the place was a little dirty(flies on tables), still the cakes on the counter looked delicious and we decided to go ahead and give it a try. With coffee and cakes ordered, we settled down on a table near the window and chit chatted while our order was getting prepared. Within 10 minutes the food was on our table, and that‘s when the conversation stopped. The reason for the same was because the cakes were so damn tasty that we did not want to stop eating.
There were brownies, chocolate cake, vanilla cake and even an apple cake. We had ordered all varieties possible and even after gobbling them up, we wanted more. But since we had to save appetite for the dinner also, we decided to stop for now. In Rishikesh you can spot one foreigner for every two Indians. The reason for so many foreigners is that as I mentioned before,Rishikesh is the Yoga capital of the world. Everyone who wants to learn, comes to India and to Rishikesh in particular.
Therefore most of the cafes will also be half occupied by them. We had apparently come in off-season, because as per the serving staff of the café; his café was overcrowded with queues outside the cafe during peak season and not surprisingly the crowd mainly consisted of foreigners from all across the world.
After having hogged on the cakes, we decided to walk across the Jhoola and explore the other side of the bridge. Lakshman Jhoola which was built in 1939 is about 450 feet long and around 70 feet above the river. As per mythological tales, Lakshman, the younger brother of Lord Rama had once crossed river Ganga at the same site where the bridge now stands and thus the name ‘Lakshman Jhoola’.
On a general day the bridge is very crowded as there are people on foot, people on two wheelers and lots of monkeys all at the same time. So expect the jhoola to be swingy and shaky during the time you are crossing it.
Once on the other side, we started walking towards the left where there were many shops, restaurants as well as some temples. While we were walking we heard some guitar strumming, and decided to venture towards the sound. We entered a small clearing area in the middle of the two buildings and reached the spot where the music was originating from. On the banks of the river there were 2 foreigners who were engrossed in the art of music making.
While one was strumming on the guitar, the other man was humming some tunes which seemed to be like the prayer songs sung at the time of Aarti. It was simply amazing and we decided to settle down at some distance and enjoy the music for a bit. That ‘bit’ turned into 45 mins where we sat, clicked pics of the river Ganga, of the jhoola and of the city lights. What an amazing way to spend an evening indeed.
After having realised the time, we decided to go look for a restaurant to eat an early dinner, since we had to walk a long way back till the rickshaw stand which would then take us back to our resort.
Another much recommended food joint as per Tripadvisor was Little Buddha Cafe
. This happened to be in the same lane that we currently were and hence we found ourselves at the entrance 10 minutes later. Little Buddha café as per me is the liveliest of the places in Rishikesh.
There is great music, perfect lighting(not too bright, yet not dark and dingy), and had a direct view of the river with cool breeze flowing inside the restaurant. We were lucky to have stepped in a little earlier than the actual dinner time, because 20 minutes later, there were people waiting to get a table.
Though we had had snacks not so long ago, yet we found ourselves decently hungry and so ordered for a pizza, gnocchi and Chinese hakka noodles(all vegetarian of course).
We each also ordered fresh lime soda(no alcohol in the city remember) and fries till the time the main course as served. All around there were groups of friends, colleagues, yoga buddies who were busy sharing their own stories and thus making the ambience very lively. There were some solo travellers as well who were either busy on their laptops or were facing the river and admiring the beauty of the city while listening to music.
Soon our food was served and we happily finished our meal while enjoying being where we were at the exact moment.
After clearing the bill, we walked out of the restaurant and started our walk back to the place where the tuk-tuk had dropped us. Since this time it was pitch dark(very few street lights) and the route back was an uphill; we took close to 40 minutes to reach the main road from where we hailed a rickshaw. This time we had to pay 200 rupees as there were not many rickshaws on the road at this hour. We were back in our apartment by 9.30 PM, and after chatting for a bit we decided to go to bed early as tomorrow we were to be out of the house by 7.30 AM for the exciting day at Jumpin Heights. Yipee. Was super excited.
Usually I am a late sleeper and don’t wake up before 9 AM, but surprisingly the next day I was wide awake by 6.30 AM and ready by 7 AM for the new day which promised to be very adventurous. My friends and I sat chatting on the dining table while having breakfast, when we got a call that our cab driver was here and ready to take us to the Jumpin Heights site. The site was around 15 km’s away from the main city and one has an option of either reaching the Jumpin Heights marketing office and hopping on to their bus(at a round trip cost of only INR 300) OR you can hire a cab for the day which will take you back and forth.
Since we were four of us, and the fact that we wanted to reach the site before the crowd trickles in; we decided to go for option 2.The cab driver charged us INR 2000 for the to and fro trip(including the waiting time). The trip was around an hour plus to the site, and once at the venue we got the first glance of the bungy jumping board. That’s when it hit us that 83 mtrs of height for the jump was a LOT.
Nevertheless, we were all geared up and nothing would intimidate us(hopefully) and we straight away went to the reception. The office in fact had not even opened and we were already there.This was exactly what we wanted. FIRST IN QUEUE.
As soon as the staff came in, we walked inside the impressive Jumpin Heights office which was vibrant and very inviting. Definitely eases out the fear of what was going to come, to a large extent.
We were then asked to fill a form which asked for basic information as well as ‘At your risk’ content. There are certain criterion’s which will make you eligible to do any of the 3 activities:
1) You should be above 12 yrs of age.
2) Min weight- 20 kg and maximum weight- 130 kg.
3) No major health issues- no back issues and definitely no heart issues.
Post filling the form, we were shown a brief instruction video(very well made indeed) and then proceeded to make the payment at the counter. The pricing for various swings is as below. In fact it is better to do a combination as is more price effective and obviously more adrenal pumping.
100 / person
3500 / person
3000 / person
Flying Fox (If doing alone)
3000 / person
Flying Fox (3 persons in tandem)
1700 / person
1500 / person
Combo 1: Bungy + Swing
6000 / person
Combo 2: Bungy + Fox
4500 / person
Combo 3: Swing + Fox
4200 / person
Trilogy Combo: Bungy + Fox + Swing
7000 / person
While at the first glance some might call it expensive, but trust me, if you go abroad anywhere(as in India there is no other similar adventure zone in competition to Jumpin Heights), the costs are soaring high. They start from INR 14K per jump and go up to INR 40K appx. In comparison, this is way more affordable and obviously after the jump you will realise that the money was definitely well spent.
Anyways we each decided to take the Bungy+ Flying Fox combo, and right after completing the formalities we were guided towards the bungy bridge. The bridge is around 8 minutes walk from the office area and once there you will get to feel the real rush. Standing on the bridge, you will get the actual feel of what you are getting into. If you look down from the bungy bridge, you will see a narrow stream of water flowing in the midst of rocks. God, please don’t let me hit the rocks when I jump. Let the Bungy rope do it’s magic(pleaseee).
We met the bunjy experts(jump masters from New Zealand) once at the gearing station, where one by one we were to step up and get all roped up(safety gear) for the jump. The jump ropes differ as per the body weights, and this is the reason why your weight is written in BOLD on the top of your
Pro– The instructors will ensure you are tied to the correct rope which can handle your weight, thus increasing the chances of not having a crash landing(just kidding- Jumpin Heights has had no accidents whatsoever since the time of inception).
Con– The world knows hot FAT you are ;).
Now that I was all geared up, legs tied to the bungy chord, I took baby steps till the edge of the jumping board. The jump master at that time was telling me some things about not looking down to avoid last minute panic attack, to keep eyes straight in the line of the hill ahead and to take a dive to enjoy the jump a bit more than a straight drop. But I could hear nothing but murmur. All that was going inside my head when taking the final steps to the edge of the bridge, with the strong wind right on my face, was the realization of having to take a step into thin air. “What had I got myself into. Why was I being so adventurous. I loved my life. I don’t want to die. Should I back out. Yes, step back. Step back now.”
That’s when I heard the last line by the jump master.
He said, “Trust me, after you successfully complete the jump; you will feel on top of the world. It
will feel like you have achieved everything you wanted to, and in true spirits
have LIVED THE LIFE”.
That’s all I needed to hear to get myself to blank out the thoughts from my mind and to just take a leap of faith. So as soon as I heard all behind me screaming 3…2….1…BUNJYYYYY- I Jumped.
Next thing I knew- I was flying. Literally flying. Initially it seems like you are going down and down and the rope is not giving any resistance and maybe you will crash. But then as soon as you feel the tug of the rope which pauses your free fall; the scream of fear turns into a scream of joy. I was on top of the world. What a feeling…
Those 30 seconds are by far the best I have had till date. The feeling of over powering your fears, is beyond anything that money can buy. All in all- You have to live it to believe it.
Once the swinging stops and you are hanging by the rope, the staff at the ground stretch out a pole for you to grab and be lowered down to the ground. There is a flat stretcher bed where you do the soft landing and while you lie flat on the bed facing the deep blue sky and thinking thoughts of what you just managed to do, the staff will remove the safety gear off you.
Wow, that was just so awesome.
After getting the blood flowing normally in the body, you are handed over a bottle of water and a cute little badge which says I HAVE GOT GUTS which can be pinned up proudly on your chest. I did exactly that.
After doing so, I walked up to a nearby rock, perched my backside on it and then waited for my other 3 friends to have the time of their life as well. Once we had all done the jumps, shared our stories, our emotions etc., we started climbing up to the office site. Since we had come 83 mtrs down from the bungy, we now had to walk back up which in fact was quite tiring. So in case you are not at your fittest best, be prepared to struggle on your way up.
Once back up, we had a soft drink and a sandwich each which we bought from the small canteen in the office space. We then decided to head straight to the Flying Fox zone, as the crowd was now accumulating and in another half an hour a massive queue would line up in the Flying Fox zone. Again there was a bit of climb to the designated area, but definitely not as bad as the earlier one. Once there, we had to pair up in two(it can be done with three together as well) and wear our safety belts.
We were then hung face down to a hook which was attached to a long rope which ran between two hills. The swing goes from a height, down close to the ground and then a little higher up till the second hill; and then all the way back. This ride is comparatively less scary and much more fun. The swing even has a Go-Pro camera attached in front so as to capture all your reactions during the ride.
Once strapped up, the countdown began and zoom we went sliding down at a very high speed. The initial part is the best when you are swinging straight down with strong breeze smashing on your face. Once near the ground you can feel the speed reducing and then it reduces further during the curve up of the rope.
After this you keep swinging while facing down, and wait till the lever pushes you slowly back(in reverse) from where you were launched off. Good fun and great way to enjoy an experience with a friend. Once we had completed both the rides, we head back to the office where we were shown the videos for our bunjy jump as well as for the flying fox. I definitely suggest that you should buy the video as these are the memories which will last a lifetime.
We were even given jump certificates for our successful jump and I have decided to frame it up to remind myself every single day of my great achievement. We then got back into the cab and headed back to the city.
After such a fantastic morning, we were super hungry and decided to have lunch at a famous restaurant called Chotiwala. There are two chains of this restaurant and the original one is across Ram Jhoola. We went for the newer one of the two which also happened to be closer to our resort. We had to let the cab go and decided to walk back after lunch.
The food is Chotiwala was good(we ordered Indian), but have heard that the older chain is better. But since we were so hungry, we enjoyed the food none the less.
After lunch, we decided to go and relax in the resort and venture out again in the evening.
Once back at the resort, which took us 15 minutes from Chotiwala, we changed into comfy clothes and put on some loud music and just chilled for few hours. In fact I even managed to catch a nap and thus I was all fresh and raring to go when we got out again at 5.30 PM. This time we went straight to Parmath Niketan Temple where the main Aarti is held. The same is on the other side of Ram Jhoola and was around 30 minutes walk from our resort.
There were quite a lot of people who had assembled for the Aarti and were deeply engrossed in the chanting of the prayers. The energy level was very high and we soon found ourselves chanting along. The Aarti went on for about 30-35 minutes, post which the pandits(those who lead the prayer) started ringing the bells which marked the end of the Aarti time.
After this we decided to walk a little more and we therefore walked around 3 km’s towards Lakshman Jhoola side from where we then further walked across to the other side as we wanted to eat dinner at a popular café called the Beatles Café.
In fact the actual band of beatles have spent quite a lot of time in Rishikesh and there is also a Beatles Ashram in Rishikesh.
This café had a great ambience. The only problem was that there was not enough space to sit. We had to wait for around 25 minutes before we finally got a table. But the food was definitely worth the wait. There was a large variety right from sandwiches to shakes to pizzas to spaghetti(all veg remember) and we tried a lot of dishes. All items on that menu are delicious, and so order whatever you want without hesitation my friend :).
After dinner, we then decided to roam around a little more before we called it a day. My friend through a connection had booked all 4 of us for a white water adventure trip tomorrow morning, before finally heading to the airport to fly back to Delhi.
For the rafting expedition, we booked with a company called Paddle India
which had very high ratings and reviews. While it is a little expensive in comparison to the other options that would be available, yet it is totally worth the extra bucks as they ensure complete safety and highly experienced staff assisting the riders during the white water rafting. In fact it is the only company which has a lifeguard(on a kayak
), moving along with the raft all through the journey.
On the day of the rafting, we were up and ready by 7.30 am, which is when the company cab came to pick us up. We were then taken to the Paddle India office which was not very far from our resort.
Once there, we each had to fill forms(At your own risk) and pay up. The amount was INR 1500 per person.
Along with the 4 of us, there were 2 more people who were going to be on the raft apart from the one staff member who was going to direct us all during the 21 km stretch. After the formalities were completed at the office, we all got into the car which would take us to the starting point of the rafting.
This place was around 40 minutes away(by car) from the city. On the way there are a lot of points from where different companies start their expedition depending on what you pay for. E.g. you can opt for the 10 km route which costs almost half the price for the 21 km route.
But we wanted to get the COMPLETE experience, and thus had opted for the full distance. Soon we reached the spot from where we had to descend on foot till the river bank. The raft was brought down and we were also given the full gear i.e. lifejackets, paddles and helmets. Then the expert gave us the guidelines to follow and also the instructions on what needed to be done at what command. There would be commands for front rowing, back rowing, duck, relax etc. Once we had gone through the commands, we were all rearing to get started.
We got into the raft and I got to sit in the front on right side(which is the best spot as per me). Once all were settled in, the expert gave us the first command- FRONT PADDLE, and then off we were…
For the first 10 minutes the water was calm, and then we saw it- the FIRST RAPID. Woahh. This is the best part about rafting i.e. going through the fast rapids- up and down and up and down. This is when listening to the instructions is the most important as the raft will go all wild on you and you have to do your best to stay in the raft and not get thrown off(ouch).
This is the reason it is immensely important that you choose a very experienced rafting company as accidents can happen if the expert is not an actual ‘expert’ and thus does not know how to direct or does not know how to handle critical situations in case of an accident.
Thankfully our experience was as smooth as could be and we were guided safely out of every rapid. These rapids have very catchy names like 3 blind mice, golf course, roller coaster, double trouble, club house etc. In all, there are around 17 rapids with varying level of intensity. At the beginning of each rapid, you will definitely have goosebumps and at the end of each rapid you will feel extremely proud of yourself for having completed it.
From the 21 km stretch till the 10 km mark, the river is very thinly populated and you will almost be the only raft(depending on season and time of the day), but as soon as you reach half way suddenly you will be surrounded by many rafts with many people and it starts feeling a little crowded. This is more the reason you should do the full stretch. Plus the best rapids are before the 10 km mark anyways.
It took us another hour plus to complete the remaining stretch and by 12 PM we found ourselves at the end. Overall we had spent close to 3 hours rafting and could now feel the numbness building up in the arms.But what a thrilling adventure. An absolute must to do when in Rishikesh.
We were then taken back to the Paddle India office by the car, where we collected our belongings and quickly head back to our resort to get changed, have a quick bite and head straight to the airport. We had a flight at 5 PM and thus needed to rush.
While initially it was looking difficult, but we did manage to reach the airport well in time to catch our flights back to Delhi.
This was the end of our girls weekend, and we definitely had a great time. Now it was time to get back to normal life and to NON VEG food ;)Hope you enjoyed reading my blog, as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Keep reading on for more updates on where I head next.