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Journal-2008-08-15

?The day started with the parade for independence day of school children in the area. Then we took a taxi from Joshimath to Govindghat. After eating a light breakfast there we began along the 13 kilometer uphill trail to Ganga ghari. This proved to be quite arduous towards the end. I began to feel my heavy bag, and everything was awash with rain. Gangaghari is at an altitude of 3040 meters and seems to be in a permanent cloud. Everything is completely wet all the time. We took a lousy hotel room. Perhaps there is a better place to stay but in two earlier hotels the rooms were full. Tomorrow we will trek up into the valley of flowers and see if it lives up to its name.

Indian cities are poor and rather unbearable - living up to their reputation. The people are friendly enough - probably more so than other places -, when they are not trying to cheat you. The food is good, and cheap - who knows whether it is sufficiently hygenic. Much of the time my body has felt vaguely in a state of shock. After being here I will need to decide whether to stay in Rishikesh, or whether to go to one of the better hill stations. Rishikesh appeals to me more, although the climate is a bit hot in the day time. But the town is probably more adjusted to Europeans than is many of the others. I know my way around and I can learn Hindi there. There are also good book shops and it is possible to do some sadhana. So probably Rishikesh is best. Maybe I should inquire about the Swiss Cottage - not sure whether my hotel or that is the most convenient.

There is also the possibility of spending some time in Uttarkashi and visiting the Sivananda Ashram near there.

What would I like to get out of this vacation?

  • A time to think, contemplate, read.
  • A time to do some sadhana, maybe enjoy some swadhyaya.
  • A time to re-think my connection with India, based on my experiences here.

Govinddham - Ghan Garia

Went this morning up to the Valley of Flowers. Expensive entrance fee of Rs 350. We walked up to about where the Valley begins, but it was raining really hard, so we didn't continue very far. There were lots of flowers, it is true, but it would have been easier to enjoy them had the weather been better. It's really a country of water, with torrents pooring from every side, and mists and cloud. We passed a miniature glacier along the way. While waiting under an overhanging rock there was suddenly a very loud rumbling, and we witnessed a rock slide far up above.