Laxman Jhula/Rishikesh

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Laxman Jhula, next to Rishikesh in Uttarakand. I happened to be there during a nationwide Shiva festival. There were droves of young men from neighboring villages and some from all corners of India crossing the bridge from Rishikesh to Laxman Jhula every minute. They all walked through the main street to a holy site a few kilometers downstream. They were almost all wearing orange shorts and shirts with images of Shiva. Some had big handheld decorations that they made to in honor of Shiva. While looking at the bridge every now and then I’d see one of those contraptions fall 60 feet to the Ganga (Ganges), and I was never sure if it was on purpose or because there were just so many people on the bridge. In Laxman, many men would stop and bath in the waters of the Ganga, some having plastic containers to take a bit of it with them.

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The town was much less touristy than I expected, probably due to the monsoon season. Throughout the main drag were cows walking everywhere, and when walking I had  to watch out for their excrement. The cows in India have these big almond eyes and long eyelashes. They are very pretty creatures.

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I stayed at an Ashram with a great view of the Ganga. I spent much of my time there taking Yoga classes, always with different instructors. For once in my life, the Yoga teachers were not westerners. Their teaching styles were different, more spiritual and less aerobic.

I learned some new meditation techniques. One class enphasized strong, focused breathing. After the session my right hand involuntarily curled up and was locked in that position for several minutes. The teacher said that it was because I had some trauma from childhood blocking the flow of energy through my body. Afterwards I felt very energized, yet calm and happy.

I became a regular at the Moonlight café. The food was great and the three young men running the place were very friendly. There I met Marc, Sabrine and Lamson. Marc and I would often play chess, Lamson and I would take turns playing his guitar and talking about our respective countries and past travels, and Sabrina and I had many a philosophical and spiritual conversation. I also met two nice Russian ladies with whom I practiced my Russian with. It was nice being a regular somewhere. After over 6 months of backpacking, I feel less of a need to see the sights and a stronger desire to stay put and get to know a place in-depth. After a week in Laxman Jhula, I went to my final destination in India, Agra to see the Taj Mahal…

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