Friday, June 7, 2013

So Far, So Great in the Mountains of India!

With forests, rivers, and beautiful views, I had no idea how beautiful the Himalaya's of India were!  After spending so much time in well built cities isolated from nature (aside from the street animals), it was refreshing to be surrounded by the natural beauty of the mountains in Rishikesh and Mcleod Ganj.

The cold, rushing Ganga River in Rishikesh was the perfect setting to go on some exciting adventures.  After hiking down to a secluded spot on the Ganga, trekking to the Beatle's Ashram, rafting down a long stretch of the Ganga, and dining a stones-throw away from the river, I learned how much being surrounded by natural beauty can bring out the best in people.  I was really worried about going hiking and rafting down the Ganges (I was warned how incredibly dangerous these activities were), but after doing these activities and learning what I'm capable of, I realized that half the battle of doing anything is mental.  If I convince myself that I'm not strong enough, coordinated enough, brave enough, etc to do anything, then it's a lot more difficult to climb down the mountain than if I take a deep breath, tell myself everything will be alright, and trust that the people around me will help me if I stumble.  It's important to use caution, common sense, and to recognize one's own limits, but you also have to recognize if caution is being used as a scapegoat for illogical fear.

We arrived in Mcleod Ganj after a 12 hour car ride through the windy one-lane highways of the Indian mountains.  Just like in Varanasi and Rishikesh, I was struck by the religious overtones to everything in this town.  While the Ganges River provided the religious currents in Varanasi and Rishikesh, the presence of the Dalai Lama in Mcleod Ganj makes a special religious atmosphere here.  I can't wait to explore this town and learn about Tibetan culture and religion!

All the best!


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