Jai Maa Gange! Har har Gange.
DevBhoomi it is, as referred to by locals of Rishikesh. To the western world it is the mystic land of Yog and meditation. The land of the pure, revered, holy river Ganga (not Ganges!). Since ancient times, sadhus and munis have wandered here, meditated in the hills and caves in search of the Truth. It is said having a dip in the river, washes away all negativity and sins. No wonder the river is popularly reffered to as Mother Ganga! ‘Jai Maa Gange‘ is the popular chant heard everywhere.
So what brought us to Rishikesh? The idea of immersing ourselves into the International Yog Festival and rejuvenating and heal our bodies and mind. (www.internationalyogafestival/rishikesh.com) Every evening it was purely magical to witness the spectacular ‘aarti’ by the riverfront. The blowing of the conch, ringing of bells, chanting and lighting wick lamps and finally singing the Jai Maa Gange aarti transported us to another world of peace and harmony.
‘Go to the Triveni Ghat to witness the best aarti. And browse the market near the Ghat.’ suggested the organizers . ‘Madam, don’t forget to eat fruit chaat and hot samosas. You can buy gur and Jhangore in the local market there’ he grinned.
Here is a recipe of this local delicacy we enjoyed every afternoon. Jhangore, finger millet is widely grown on the terrace slopes of Uttarakhand. Its cuisine is highly nutritious and rich, catering to the winter season.
The popular markets are: Triveni Ghat, Lakshman Jhuula, Ram jhuula and Parmarth Niketan street market.
Triveni Ghat market:
I shared an auto ride from Munni ki Reti area to the main entrance of the market at a cost a mere Rs. 20/-Bonus point – One gets to meet friendly locals and have a chat.
The decorated archway adorned with Hindu gods stands tall guarding the main entryway of the street. Numerous small shops fill up both sides of the street. ( Sorry, I did not notice the street names). Sarees, wedding attire, shops selling woollen shawls, caps and children’s winter wear, belts, colourful bangles, belts and…much more.
‘But where can I buy some wool and some jaggery or gur? ‘ I inquired. ‘Turn into the adjacent lanes’ directed some locals. Aha…so here I was in the midst of a local market selling every day needs: cheap clothes, plastic buckets, toys, slippers, puja items like idols, chandan, kumkum, agarbatti, colourful bundles of wool spilling onto the floor as its only a seasonal need. I was greedy enough to buy yarn too, as it was much cheaper and better than what I would get back home. Knitters and crochet enthusiasts are NEVER satisfied with their stashes secure in various places at home. And so I have heard.
Time for some street food. If its prepared fresh, no tummy upsets, I was told.
Mouth watering, piping hot aloo tikki (potato patties) served with tangy tamarind chutney.
Deep fried samosas and Dal kachori is another winter favourite.
Here it is finally walking into the street…Gur ki bhel (mounds of jaggery made from boiling sugarcane juice. This is a winter product in North India, where sugarcane is cash crop. There were push carts with roasted groundnuts, fresh made pop corn /makki pop, sweet Petha (white gourd) and all time favourite Til ki revadi ( sesame seed and jaggery candies).
Laxman Jhoola Market:
This iconic area is extremely popular with tourists, both Indian and International. The iron jhoola or bridge was constructed over the holy river connecting Pauri district with Tehri district.
Legend has it that Sri Ram’s younger brother Lakshman, (refer to the epic Ramayan) is supposed to have crossed at this spot into the forest during their exile period, using a jute rope. Hence the religious importance of this place. Many tourists and pilgrims and followers of Yog and meditation throng to the temples and markets here.
This market is as colourful as the tourists, a bit pricier too. Yog mats, loose clothing, Boho crochet bags, shawls, silver trinkets, embroidered bags, books on spirituality and regional birds, brass idols and bells, conches and rudraksha malas….the market is just a haven for tourists! In return, the locals make brisk business, meet tourists, even learn foreign languages. ( we met a young school going girl selling candies by the bridge. She said she could say hello and farewell in English, German and Dutch…whereas Hindi is the regional / school language).
Some tourist women happily posed for me, later they took me along to enjoy murmura ki bhel (puffed rice savoury). Yumm…
Street market near Parmarth Niketan
Internationally popular Parmarth Niketan, is a popular yoga ashram and has study programmes all round the year. Situated at the river front it makes for an ideal meditative walk. The narrow street market that leads up to it, is usually crowded with tourists and International attendees.
Ayurvedic oils, medicines, healing Patanjali products, music CD’s and spiritual books make up for most of the shops. Others shops selling trinkets, beads, rudrakshas, yoga pyjamas, exotic Pashmina shawls can be found here. Its such a vibrant, buzzing but intensely clustered market. There is no dearth of food joints…so do Yog and well…beware of what you eat!
Time to head back for yoga and meditation. Think twice at any market, before you buy. Is there a need or is it just greed?
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Courtesy: Patanjali AZ Quotes