The world is getting smaller day-by-day and so the gap between vivid genres is diminishing. There used to be a time when it was easy to differentiate between an avid traveler and the usual office goers. The office goers used to travel for picnics once in a blue moon with families and adventure seekers and travelers used to hit the roads whenever and wherever possible.
But the time has come when the gap between these two is getting narrower and people in large numbers today, want to break the office mundane and visit some place in the weekend and we generally know it as a weekend getaway. For people living in Delhi, the season usually starts from March when summers hit the capital of our country and people rush towards the mountains and nature to find solace (if there's any).
This is why we decided to bring you a series of travelogue to help you plan your summer weekends better. We have been bringing you travelogues in the past, be it local or international. This time we decided to travel a place reachable from Delhi and can be done on a weekend. So here's our travelogue for the Delhi to Rishikesh weekend getaway.
The journey to Rishikesh starts from Delhi via Ghaziabad, a part of NCR and falls under U.P state. One has to pass through the Ghaziabad followed by Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee (famous for I.I.T), Haridwar (famous for Ganga) and lastly Rishikesh. The complete journey covers some 270 kms depending on your start point. Let's discuss about the tarmac, traffic and best time to pass through these stretches-
Delhi - Ghaziabad
The Delhi Ghaziabad route is the most time consuming stretch of all. The roads are otherwise good, but since it passes through traffic and there's red light, it becomes insanely tiring at times. Our suggestion is to leave either early in the morning or during afternoon. Avoid peak traffics of morning and evening. Also, lots of trucks ply during night time, so one has to avoid it too.
Traffic Jam are normal after Ghaziabad
The traffic from Ghaziabad to Meerut is something which everyone should be concerned of. The road passes through two small settlements named Modinagar and Muradnagar and is two lane on both the sides. The problem is, lots of tractors, autos and bull carts pass through these roads creating bottlenecks often. Also, accidents are too common and that causes severe jams. There's no best time to pass though the area, and the tarmac is also in bad shape.
Meerut - Muzzafarnagar
This is where things go rather interesting and being a toll road, this stretch covering some 100 kms is the best part to drive on. The roads are smooth, almost 4 lane highway on either sides and less traffic. You can push the throttle as you need, but remember not to exceed the speed limits, which for your reference is 90kmph for Indian highways.
Don't forget to take the refreshing Sugarcane juice
Muzzafarnagar to Haridwar
As the toll road ends the journey from UP to UK begins. Don't be shell shocked, UK here means Uttarakhand which was once part of the UP. What shocks us more is the stark difference within kilometers between people, language, behavior, roads and terrain of UP and UK. The roads here are smooth but narrow. Lots of construction work is happening to connect Haridwar better.
Haridwar to Rishikesh
The last leg of the journey takes you from the religious town of Haridwar to picturesque town of Rishikesh. The terrain changes from plains to mountains and so do the road signs. One can't stop but notice the sign board suggesting Elephants can cross your path (unusual ain't it?).
We definitely don't support going out of the usual and seek new roads as it can be dangerous and time consuming some times. But there's no fun of doing the mundane every time. This is why we opted to take a detour while returning back to Delhi. Once you pass Haridwar and move towards Roorkee, a small right turn will take you along the upper Ganga canal that travels from Haridwar to Muzzafarnagar. By taking the route, one can bypass the hustle of Roorkee and other small towns and hit the highway again just where the toll road starts. The road is a single lane with potholes, but there's no traffic and the Ganga flowing on the side and forest all around ensures you have a nice breathing experience.
Upper Ganga Canal road
Now this is a very subjective matter and it all depends on individual to individual. One of the highly recommended stop is the famous Cheetal Grand restaurant just before Muzzafarnagar near Khatauli. This age old eating joint provides everything a foodie needs. Apart from the Cheetal, if you are interested in fast food, you can get McDonalds, KFC and Dominoes in between.
Once in Rishikesh, ensure that you visit the Beetles Cafe (as it is popularly known as). The original name of the cafe is 'Cafe Delmar' which became famous when the famous U.S based band - The Beetles - visited this cafe somewhere in 1960s. And from then on, the place is known by the name of Cafe Delmar/ Beetles Cafe/ 60s Cafe. The food is really good and so is the view. Based on the banks of the Ganga river and just next to the Laxman Jhula, the cafe gives a 180 degree view of Rishikesh with some brilliant and round the clock food. Chocolate pancake and Pink Floyd pizza is must.
On the way back, try one of the innumerous dhabas on the highway. The food is really low cost, filling and good on taste. Typical north Indian food can be found and don't forget to drink tea before hitting the roads again.
The obvious stay for the night is the riverside camp. You can book your camp from any of the travel operators in the city and the night stay at a camp excluding rafting costs somewhere around Rs 800-Rs 1500. The cost includes 2-3 meals, bonfire, volleyball and much more. But if you have an extra night, and you intend to explore the city, take a hotel. There are many hotels ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 8000 per night and offers good single day stay.
In our 600+ km long journey, we chose our tried and tested partner, the super reliable Maruti Suzuki Swift. Ours was a Vdi variant and we covered the whole journey in a tank full. With 40 litres of diesel, we covered 650 kms (that's a mileage of more than 16 kmpl). The Swift is super impressive on highways as well as hills. The heavy built and grunty engine never asked for any trouble and our journey went smooth.
For your reference, the Swift we had was the second generation model purchased in 2012 and is powered by a 1.3-litre DDiS engine sourced from Fiat capable of producing 84bhp.
Activities to do
Once in Rishikesh, there are many things to do. Starting from the famous Rafting on river Ganges to some adrenaline filled acts like Bungee jump, Rishikesh is a true adventurous and spiritual place. The rafting is divided from beginner level to extreme and can be done from a stretch between 8 kms to 30 kms. The 30kms rafting include 15 rapids upto grade 5 (more the grade, difficult the challenge).
Jumpin Heights is a place where you can do three aerial adventure activities - the 83 metre high bungee jump, the giant swing and the 1 km long flying fox. It is definitely not for week hearted, so avoid doing it if you fear heights. You can also rent a bike and roam around Rishikesh on winding and smooth roads.
Other activities include visiting some yoga ashram and indulging in some yoga retreat. One can also do trekking and visit many temples in and around Rishikesh. Don't forget to take a bath in the holy Ganga river in Haridwar.
Overall, our recommendation is to go and visit Rishikesh in summers if you live in the northern part of India. There's plenty of stuff you can do and make your weekend a refreshing one!