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City Focus: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Ganga river has a lot of cities on its banks. The first city that Ganga flows through after descending the HImalayas is Rishikesh. Rishikesh is in Tehri Garhwal district and is surrounded by the mountains of the Garhwal range of Himalayas. The city is quite unique in the sense that there is something here for everyone. Whether you want to visit temples and watch Ganga Ghat Aarti, or if you want to learn yoga, or if you want to get your adrenaline pumping with white water rafting and bungee jumping. Continue reading

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Geography: Understanding Garhwal and Kumaon regions of Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is a large state, despite being carved out of Uttar Pradesh. It required us 50 days to see each of the its important destinations. This is because, the state is mountainous and it requires a lot of time to commute from one place to another. Also, there is something of importance at an average distance of every 40 – 50 km. To plan a trip around the state is mind-boggling. But we used a simple rule to plan our route. By the time we reached Rishikesh from Delhi, we had a solid plan for exploring the home state of Ganga river. While there are hundreds of places to see in the 13 districts of Uttarakhand, at the most elementary level, the state has just two divisions: Garhwal and Kumaon. Planning a trip where you cover one division followed by the other makes the task less overwhelming. Continue reading

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Thematic Trips: The Panch Prayag of Ganga

In Uttarakhand, the towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar are the only ones that that see Ganga river in its entirety. To their east, several towns see the tributaries that go on to make up the mighty river. Several rivers make up India’s longest river that is considered a Goddess or a mother figure by Indians. But the three major rivers that play the biggest part are Alaknanda, Mandakini and Bhagirathi. All of them are in the Garhwal region, the region that forms the northern half of the state of Uttarakhand. At the origin of these three rivers are three of the holy pilgrimages which are part of Char Dham (the 4 abodes) desinations: Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri. The fourth of the Char Dham is Yamnotri, which is the source of Yamuna river. The Yamuna river plays no part in the Ganga river system until much farther in Uttar Pradesh at Allahabad. So let’s ignore Yamuna for this post. We’ll come back to Her later.

Along with three of the four Dhams, there are 5 more places that are considered holy for a different purpose.  These are the places where major tributaries joins forces to form a bigger river. These places are known as Prayags or Sangams. Since there are 5 holy unions, they are collectively termed as the Panch Prayag. In relation to the Char Dham, the 5 Prayags are less well-known, but they make up extremely beautiful destinations, especially Rudraprayag. Let’s go on a beautiful and interesting journey, flowing through the tributaries of river Ganga and pause at the places where She joins other rivers and becomes a bigger river. We will have a closer look at each of the 5 Prayags.

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