Rishikesh stands on the banks of the Ganges, where the river still has the cleanliness and vigour of a mountain stream. On my drenched arrival, it was a startling turquoise, but it soon became a silty brown after the heavy rains.
In the hills above Rishikesh
With scant regard for its Hindu roots, a cottage industry of all things alternative has sprung up. In search of a good novel, I found the bookshops stocking little but teachings of the yogis, books on crystals, and such gems as 'The Celestine Prophecy' and 'Emotional Intelligence'. Call me spiritually barren if you will, but I just don't get it. What's more, somehow I don't feel I'm missing out.
As I sat on a delightful terrace in the late afternoon sun, looking across the deep valley, I would gladly have been sipping a beer, were not Rishikesh a declared alcohol-free, vegetarian zone. I could see one rooftop where a group of earnest Westerners, with that studied alternative look to their garb, walked very slowly in pigeon steps for half an hour, presumably as a meditative aid. On another, flexible girls practised their yoga. I can't help feeling that there ought to have been a road-block on the way in, which would have picked me out as an unsuitable addition to the community and sent me packing. Perhaps I'm just bitter that I don't fit in.
On my earlier return from Agra to Delhi, I spent a couple of days having a series of minor bike niggles seen to, and a front disc brake fitted. After experiencing (or rather, not experiencing) the famed weakness of the front drum, it seemed clear that the expense of the new disc kit could be worth it. So far, I'm pleased and can now stop on a moderate hill without rolling backwards. In fact, I almost feel I could join the ancient Ambassador cars that amusingly have 'Keep Distance - Power Brake' (or, just as often, 'Keep Distence - Power Break') emblazoned on their boot, presumably to warn other road users of their awesome stopping power. The bike hasn't fared so well of late - piston troubles already, burning oil like a two-stroke. Must be all those quality Indian parts.
Paperwork arrangements took a near fatal blow, so Bernard and I arranged a rendezvous to take stock at Corbett National Park, a day's ride from Delhi. This is a peaceful haven where Indian/foreigner dual-pricing has reached an art-form, but somehow I don't rail against it as I did in the past. This must be a consequence of now having a budget that puts me mildly above the backpacker breadline. I know my days of true grit are over. This was made clear to me when asked, by a couple of the legions of young South Koreans here, how much I was paying for a room. Admitting to four dollars, there were intakes of breath and an incredulous 'Wow'. Let's face it, I've gone soft.
Taking the ecological travel option
Since then, I've been up in Mussourie, a hill station first developed by the British as a relief from the summer heat, and used as their summer capital. The decaying church and lamp-post stumps bear witness to the British presence, but it now caters to Indian tourists, in particular Delhi urbanites. The setting is spectacular, strung out along a high ridge with views far out over the plain to the south, and to the Himalayas to the north.
This was where George Everest (of mountain fame) set up home at the culmination of the Great Arc - an extraordinary trigonometrical survey that, through great hardship and loss of life, triangulated all the way from the southern tip of the country. It allowed accurate mapping of India and, when it reached this point, accurate determination of the heights of the Himalayas, and contemporary praise hailed it as man's greatest scientific achievement. To a large extent, the mapping helped to define India as an entity, in a way that it hadn't existed before in the minds of its people. The headquarters of the survey is still situated in the town below, where apparently they will still correct your pronunciation - George pronounced it Eave-rest.
Sadly, apart from its setting, Mussoorie is pitifully tacky. An air of Blackpool in the clouds, right down to the candyfloss salesmen. It has a similar hunkered down, wintry feel to it at the moment with half the shops closed and the few people wrapped up to defend themselves from the cold that still maintains patches of snow. Compounded by hail and powercuts, it feels like time to get back to Delhi.Posted by James Whyte at February 24, 2003 04:37 PM GMT
Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.
"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."
"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"
Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.
Next HU Events
- USA North Carolina: Sept. 4-7
- France Mini: Sep 5-7
- Canada Ontario: Sept. 11-14
- NEW! UK - Haggs Bank: Sept. 19-21
- USA California: Sept. 25-28
- Aus Queensland: Oct 3-6
- Aus Perth: Oct 10-12
- Aus VIC: Oct 24-26
- NEW! Aus NSW: Oct 31-Nov 2
- NEW! South Africa: Nov 13-16
- NEW! HUMM Morocco: May 13-16, 2015
What others say about HU...
"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA
"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada
"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia
"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders
10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!
NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!
Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!
What turns you on to motorcycle travel?
Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!
New to Horizons Unlimited?
New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!
Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.Read more about Grant & Susan's story
Membership - help keep us going!
Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.
You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.
Books & DVDs
All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!
Story and photos copyright © All Rights Reserved.
Contact the author:
Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.
Hosted by: Horizons
Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!