Rishikesh is a religious place at the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India. The great river Ganga (Ganges) flows through Rishikesh. Hindus worship the Ganga and believe that its water is blessed. They also believe that taking a bath in the river Ganga can wash away all their sins. You can find several people filling empty bottles and cans with Ganga water to take back with them to their homes.

Although the single most important feature of Rishikesh is the river Ganga, the place is also popular for several other reasons. Rishikesh is the gateway to Kedarnath and Badrinath, which are popular religious places of Hindus. Rishikesh is also famous for adventure sports, as it has several adventure camps that conduct river rafting, bungee jumping, and rock climbing along the banks of the Ganga.

I have visited Rishikesh a number of times, as it happens to be one of the favorite vacation destinations of my family. Every year, I visit Rishikesh at least twice, if not more. In 2013 also, I visited Rishikesh twice. I enjoy the long walks along the river, bathing in it, and then lying on the white sand on the banks of the Ganga. I also love the evening prayer in front of the Parmartha Niketan, a famous ashram with a huge statue of Lord Shiva in the middle of the river. After the prayer is over, many people light small earthen lamps or diyas, place them along with flowers on big leaves that they set afloat in the river.

Though I love doing all this, my favorite pastime in Rishikesh is to sit silently on the rocks by the side of the Ganga, with my legs dipped in the cold water, and listen to the sound of the river. Its music seems more beautiful to me than the sound of a guitar. When I am sit there and watch the river flow by, I feel at peace and feel inspired to do the best that I can.

The river Ganga inspires me because I think its journey is similar to our life. Ganga originates from the Gangotri glacier in Uttarakhand and flows thousands of kilometers to finally merge with the Bay of Bengal. In this long journey, the flow of the river keeps changing. At times, the flow is very fast, and at times it is very slow. The journey of our life is also very long. In this long journey of life, we face many problems and we overcome most of them. But some problems seem hard to face. When the obstructions of the river increase, the river has barely any flow. However, the river does not stop. It continues to flow through whatever space it finds and overcomes the obstructions drop by drop. We also have to do the same thing. Step by step, we can finally overcome our problems, however big they might be.

With change in season, the water level in the Ganga sometimes becomes very low while at other times, during and after the monsoons, the river is flooded. Similarly, in our life also, we sometimes feel down and depressed, whereas in some other times, we feel happy and blessed. The river Ganga finally reaches its delta and we finally reach the end of life’s journey. We all know that one day we have to face death but we don’t know what happens after death. Indian mythology says that all of us have to go through a cycle of birth and death and then rebirth. If a person has done good things in life, then after death he or she becomes free from this cycle and simply merges with God. Just as the river Ganga finally merges with the sea.

Rishikesh is religious and sacred for many people, but for me it is much more than that. Rishikesh, and especially the river Ganga, is like a Guru to me that helps me understand the purpose of life and inspires me to live life in a meaningful manner.

About the Author:  My name is Aakash Pandey and I study in class 7 in Presidium Indirapuram. I have previously won a competition arranged by Pratham Books(The Chuskit Contest) in 2010. Writing is my hobby and I love to write.

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